Tracking collars to be attached to pests in Taranaki in predator-free efforts

Several pests will have tracking collars attached to them in Taranaki in an effort to make the region predator free.

The Taranaki Regional Council has announced that GPS collars will be attached to stoats, weasels and ferrets in the region, to track their behaviour over the next few months.

The Towards Predator-Free Taranaki region-wide project began in June last year in an effort to boost biodiversity by removing the pests from rural, urban and conservation land.

Project manager Toby Shanley said the tracking would provide new insight into the pests in the hopes of reaching New Zealand's predator-free 2050 goal.

"The main lessons we are wanting to learn is what habitat features, like streams or roads, are they using to get around," he told Newshub.

First, enough of the pests need to be trapped. 

"What we are working on at the moment is trying to come up with the most efficient trapping layout as we can so we can cover large areas," said Mr Shanley.

More than 2000 rat traps have been set up in backyards, with another 1000 rat and stoat traps on public reserves and parks, and 2100 traps are being rolled out on rural land.

While Mr Shanley said the pests can look harmless, they are responsible for up to 60 percent of kiwi chick deaths and were a major threat to other native birds and lizards.

"Our native biodiversity, our native birds and lizards are just going to continue to decline and we will just keep losing them from more and more areas," he said.

The project received $11.7 million from Predator Free 2050 Ltd and has support from local schools.