Study finds Aotearoa is world leader in pest eradication, expert praises 'number eight wire' approach

  • 11/08/2022

A new study has found Aotearoa is an international leader in pest eradication and is responsible for a quarter of the world's island pest eradication. 

And now many countries are looking to the land of the long white cloud for our talent and expertise, conservation biologist James Russell told AM our "number eight wire approach" has helped our response.

"We saw the problem 50 years ago that there were too many rats on our islands and we just got  out there and did something about it."

New Zealand's eradication mission began on Maria Island in the back of the Hauraki Gulf where rats took over and started eating the island's bird population. 

"So their wildlife service threw some poison around and long and behold they were all gone the next year, they just kept thinking since then and that led through to trials in the 80s, the use of helicopters in the 90s."

The island the size of a football field remains pest-free, Russell said the approach when eradicating pests from islands is to do it once and do it right.

"We want to do it once, so we don't have to come back every year and use more money and use more poison, to get every last rat, that's going to solve the problem."

Russell said he's confident Aotearoa will meet Predator Free 2050. 

"The test we have is doing it on our larger offshore islands in the next 10 years, so these islands we see coming online for eradication, so for Waiheke, Great Barrier and Stewart Island."

He added it's important to work with communities on each island on the best way to approach eradication. 

Aotearoa uses 80 percent of the world's 1080 poison which Russell says is because the mammals we target aren't native to New Zealand. 

"1080 targets mammals and it kills them and most other places around the world such as Europe or North America wouldn't want to use 1080 because they have native raccoons, native bears."

Watch the full interview above.