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First step towards NZ’s largest pest-free island

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has announced funding for the first step in New Zealand’s most ambitious island pest eradication.

Speaking at Forest and Bird’s 2018 Conference, the Minister committed $2 million over the next three years to complete planning, including field trials, towards making sub-Antarctic Auckland Island predator free.

"This is an ambitious project on the 46,000 ha Auckland Island and a major step towards the goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050," Eugenie Sage said.

"The funding will allow greater understanding of the scale and complexity of the problem and help guide decisions about eradicating pigs, cats and mice from Auckland Island.

"Any decision to proceed will require a long-term commitment of resources and effort. Early estimates suggest the potential cost of eradication may be in the order of $40 million to $50 million over eight to 10 years.

"The Department of Conservation is working closely with iwi partner Ngāi Tahu and will be seeking other partners to collaborate on the project," Eugenie Sage said.

Introduced pigs and cats have devastated Auckland Island’s native wildlife and plants. Mice are also a problem by competing for food with native birds, and attacking seabird chicks.

Most of the native birds that were once abundant on Auckland Island have disappeared from the main island and now exist only on the surrounding pest-free islands. These include the Auckland Islands snipe, Auckland Island rail and Auckland Island teal.

"Eradicating these pests from New Zealand’s fifth-largest island would see Auckland Island become the country’s largest pest-free island. It would complete the removal of introduced predators from all of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands, cementing our reputation as a world leader in predator control," Eugenie Sage said.

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