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New Zealand planning to exterminate all rats and possums by 2050

New Zealand have announced an ambitious plan to exterminate all rats, possums and other predatory pests from the country by 2050.

The project is designed to protect native wildlife and in particular flightless birds that are targeted by the rodents.

Over 25 million native birds are killed every year by possums and rats.

Kevin Hackwell of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand told Ross and John this proposal has the support of the majority of New Zealanders. 

‘One of the fastest growing recreational activities in New Zealand is people doing pest control in their spare time,’ he said.

Hackwell said this was solely an issue for New Zealand as possums were introduced to their ecosystem unnaturally. 

‘The only land mammals that were here in New Zealand when human’s arrived was three species of bats,’ Hackwell said.

‘We have this unique biodiversity and things like possums and rats do an enormous amount of damage.’

It was discovered in the 1980’s that possums attack nests at night, eating chicks and eggs, making them just as damaging to the ecosystem as rats.

Extermination trials were carried out on the country’s nearby islands, and they now believe the program is ready for the mainland. 

‘In the last 50 years, the New Zealand conservation community have been seeing how we can go about eradicating these things,’ Hackwell said.

‘We know we can do it on the mainland.’

While the focus is exterminating predatory mammals, other pests like rabbits are also going to be targeted as part of the project.

‘The chances are if you’re going to go to this effort for the whole country, you’re going to get rid of a few other pests at the same time,’ he said.

The eradication will cost the government over three billion dollars by its completion. 

Click PLAY below to hear the full interview on 3AW