29 January 2014

Environment Commissioner welcomes Government response to threatened pest "explosion".

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright has welcomed today's announcement by the Minister of Conservation regarding a threatened massive increase in rat and stoat numbers.

The Hon Nick Smith has pledged increased monitoring and planning in response to the pending periodic 'mast event' prolific flowering of beech trees and tussock grasses expected in the North and South Islands this summer.

The abundance of seed produced is expected to lead to a dramatic increase in rat numbers which will in turn provide plentiful food for stoats to multiply. Both rats and stoats are voracious predators of native birds, bats, insects and lizards.

"The potential toll on our native wildlife is enormous," said Dr Wright. "I am delighted with Dr Smith's considered response to this very major threat to New Zealand's native flora and fauna."

"1080 is the only tool we have to control the plagues of rats and stoats that follow a mast."

Dr Wright said the logistical challenge should not be underestimated, and that the timing of drops is critical.

"I also wish to acknowledge the years of research into the behaviour of these predators by Department of Conservation scientists and others that has made this response possible."

ENDS