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“By 2050, every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums.”
Alice Klein

New Scientist
3 Aug 2016 - 11:35 AM  UPDATED 3 Aug 2016 - 11:35 AM

Press reboot. The New Zealand government has announced a “world-first” plan to exterminate all non-native predators by 2050 to allow the country’s natural ecosystem to recover.

Ratspossums and stoats have ravaged the nation’s unique fauna since their introduction, with one-third of native birds now extinct, and the iconic flightless Kiwi under serious threat.

Prime Minister John Key said on Monday that NZ$28 million would be committed to a public-private venture designed to fund large-scale predator eradication programmes.

“By 2050, every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats and possums,” he said. “This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world.”

Improvements in pest control strategies will help to make this dream a reality, Wayne Linklater at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand told the country’s Science Media Centre.

“After decades of slow and small incremental progress in new technologies for pest control, the pace of advance is accelerating on several fronts – advanced trap designs, new lures, baits and poisons, biosensors and the remote control and delivery of all these and more on a grander scale,” he says.

These approaches have already helped to eliminate introduced predators from over 100 of the nation’s offshore islands.

“The one enormous and largely unconsidered cloud on this exciting horizon is that we have not considered how to successfully eradicate predators from peopled environments e.g. cities and agricultural landscapes,” he says. “That requires convincing almost everyone to buy into the goal.” 

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