The Eye of the Fish

Leviathan
July 26, 2016

Death to all Weasels

This should be big news today – although, curiously, it is not showing up as front page news yet on the main media websites. Did you know that yesterday, Key, Joyce, and Barry all stood in Zealandia and declared that they were working for New Zealand to become 100% predator-free by 2050 ? The Nats, long being known as the true blue farmers party that really didn’t give a shit about the environment, seems to be quietly going green.

Hush now, we wouldn’t want anyone to know that one of the late great Sir Paul Callaghan’s wildest ideas (the possibility of a predator-free NZ) is actually going to be trialled for real. Good on National for doing this, even if it makes them look more caring than they really want to.

This is a big move – possibly the biggest move that any country has ever tried, anywhere in the world, ever. The aim is to rid the country of EVERY single:
Rat
Stoat
Possum
Weasel
that exists in Godzone, and possibly mice and feral cats as well (after all, Gareth Morgan was at the photo-call as well). That’s an audacious aim, and one I fully support.

We are currently having a rimu masting year, when a massive amount of seeds is produced and falls to the forest floor, attracting birds, and inevitably, more rats and weasels as well. It has the potential to cause a boom in bird numbers, followed then by a boom in rat numbers, and when the seeds have been eaten, the rats will tackle the birds. So, be prepared for the world’s largest 1080 drops, coming your way soon. NZ is already the world’s largest user of 1080 poison bait – prepare for that rate to massively increase, and also be prepared to buy shares in Good Nature, the home-grown makers of the world’s best rat traps. And stoat traps. And weasel traps. And possum traps. God I love these guys! Death to all weasels!

Leviathan
27 - 07 - 16

There’s more about this story here:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/82487899/the-technology-wave-behind-ambitious-plans-for-a-predatorfree-new-zealand

Am I the only one intrigued by this? This is huge!

starkive
27 - 07 - 16

This is worth reading…

http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/one-percent-please

Seems it’s going to take more than just a tuatara photo op.

interjohn
27 - 07 - 16

Could we not try and 86 some child poverty as well as the rats and cats?

60 MPa
28 - 07 - 16

As a hunter I don’t think this is feasible

I would like it to happen and unlike other hunters I am agnostic on 1080 but I just don’t think that this pack of cornfed wideboys are remotely serious about what it really takes to be mustelid and feral cat free

Levi
29 - 07 - 16

Agreed, there is a wide gap between words and actual feasible action. I’ve read in one of the official news stories that to make NZ completely predator free would cost something like a minimum of $9 billion, yet here are the government starting off the project for a simple tiny $23 million? Clearly that’s not going to cut the mustelid.

But it is still a huge first step to make. While people like Barry are still stuck on the old poison-them-all-to-death routine, the fact that National have got people like the wonderful Good Nature involved gives me a lot of hope. They’ve just completely exterminated every pest on Native Island, deep down south, from their traps alone. The traps cost about $169 each retail, so for a chunk of that money I’m sure we could get a half a million traps out there snapping necks and deleting weasels. Worth trying!

Seamonkey Madness
29 - 07 - 16

Agree with both sides of the discussion. It is a great first step from a party that has people who usually take the carpet-bomb option.
But also, whenever there has been cases of eradication, it has always been in isolation, i.e. and island, or a sanctuary with predator-proof fencing (read: Zealandia). You will always have one sneaky rat that will leave the “death-zone”.

It’s a great ambition, but I don’t think it is realistic.
In saying that, I think it could be done for possums. Great things have been done for farmers in the Rangitikei region. A relative says after a successful baiting scheme,he hasn’t seen one around his (not unsubstantial) farm in years.

JohnH
29 - 07 - 16

Good Nature A24’s are the bomb; ours has been dispatching rats and hedgehogs for a year now. We bought the digital counter more recently to keep track of kill numbers as local cats run off with the carcasses which left us wondering how much use if was getting (thus how much gas in the cylinder was left). The cheeky moggy who lives next door has been cashing in on pats and love from his owners by turning up in the morning and presenting them with a nice dead rat which we are certain he just pinches from under our A24. However as much as we love killing rats, there are some funny attitudes about. Neighbours three doors down with lots of bush around them were very reluctant to accept our offer of stationing our A24 in their backyard for a couple of months.
One simple thing the government should do forthwith is to immediately ban the sale and transfer of pet rats, with ownership banned from say 2021. No more sales from pet shops and no community-noticeboard “giveaways”. Special licenses could be issued to allow for secure breeding and containment for research institutes and universities. This is what happened for ferrets in 2002; it’s time to do the same for rats.

andy foster
29 - 07 - 16

Great post Levi
I was surprised – and delighted to see the Government make this move. It is a great aspiration. Predator control is getting better and better. Personally I have for several years been saying we should aim for a pest predator free Wellington city south of the urban motorway – using the motorway (possibly plus fence) as a barrier to re-invasion.
We already have eradicated possums from Miramar peninsula and they are generally now in very low densities. (example Trelissick Park Working Group recently found the first one in ten years) Crofton Downs is now a pest free suburb – great work by Kelvin Hastie.
We’ve got more and more people active in our community eradicating pests – I’ve just got in from checking and clearing a bait line I run on the Karori side of Zealandia.

Back to the Government – the vision is fantastic. What it now needs is to map out a credible pathway to achieve that great aspiration with some milestones along the way.
I also think – given the objective really isn’t so much to be pest free as to deliver the outcome that will mean (booming numbers of native birds, lizards, insects etc) they will also need to up the game on looking after some threatened species.

Great post Levi

Thanks

Andy

Levi
29 - 07 - 16

Thanks all – it’s certainly a change of heart for Nats, and they need to increase the money pot about 1000-fold, but it is a positive first step along a very long journey. Maybe we will never eradicate them all, but lessening the pressure on our native birds gives them breathing space to breed.

I’ve actually seen 2 weasels this year, just running around in daylight. One was running across the road in the bush just south of Lyall Bay, amazing to see his little wiggly orange body as he shot across the road. I tried to run him over but he was too fast. So Andy Fosters comment about clearing out the peninsular may well be a good feasible option. The other time I saw one was in the bush at a friends place in Waikanae – where her patio joined the bush line. Cheeky little bugger ran past the patio window not more than 2m away from where I sat.

On that anecdotal evidence (having never seen a weasel in the flesh for several decades, and now seeing 2 in 2 months) I declare that there must be a population explosion. Scientific conclusive proof!

Mike Mellor
31 - 07 - 16

Agreed that it is a fine move by the government, and my ecologist friends tell me that it is quite feasible and would just about pay for itself with the associated reduction in pest control.

Apart from Good Nature, another fine organisation working towards a pest-free end is Backyard Sanctuaries http://backyardsanctuaries.co.nz – with the help of rat and mice traps supplied by them I think I’ve got rid of both of these pests on my section (possums already gone since I’m on the Miramar Peninsula).

The peninsula’s possum-free status relies on the airport as a pest barrier, and the potential for major roads to do the same (they’re pretty good as people barriers already!) is an opportunity just waiting to be grasped.
.