About 10-15% of New Zealand is covered with native bush, 80% of which is endemic to New Zealand. Every night over 70,000 native birds are killed due to predation. We aim to create a community committed to advocate and protect our gorgeous native species.
The bad guys
We’re focusing our pest control efforts on the top three introduced predators in New Zealand – rats, possums and mustelids. This allows the forest canopy to recover, and reduces attacks on chicks and nesting birds so they can rebuild their populations.
Leaves are the main part of their diet, but possums are opportunistic omnivores. They eat buds, flowers, fruit/berries and nectar, which means they compete with native birds and reptiles for food sources. The growth and life-cycle of a tree or plant is significantly affected when all parts of it are eaten. Possums also have ‘favourites’ such as rātā or kamahi trees, leading to an even greater impact on these species.
In 1993, possums were filmed eating the eggs and chicks of kōkako and this evidence changed many people’s views of their threat to wildlife. They eat invertebrates, including weta, and are significant predators of New Zealand land snails such as Powelliphanta. They often occupy holes in tree trunks for their nests which would otherwise be used by nesting birds such as kākāriki and saddlebacks.
Rats and mice
Ship and Norway rats and kiore have a major impact in New Zealand because they are omnivores – eating birds, seeds, snails, lizards, fruit, weta, eggs, chicks, larvae and flowers. The varied diet of rats also makes them competitors with native wildlife for food sources.
Ship rats are found in many different habitats around New Zealand and are widespread in lowland podocarp-broadleaf forests. They are good climbers, so they can access many bird nests high in trees.
On offshore islands, Norway rats are large enough to kill burrow-nesting adult seabirds and eat their eggs and chicks. Along with other prey, kiore have a significant impact on large flightless invertebrates living on the ground, such as our land snails or weta laying their eggs.
Mustelids – Stoats, ferrets & Weasels
Stoats and other mustelids will eat native and endemic birds, their chicks and eggs, invertebrates, rodents, lizards, hedgehogs and fish. They are carnivores and only eat other animals. Stoats can climb trees and swim a few kilometres, and they hunt day and night. Stoats are clever and careful. They are very suspicious of baits and traps and so it is difficult to kill them.
Feral cats are a major threat to nesting birds as well as lizards, wētā and other insects. A feral cat lives in the wild and has little or no human contact. They can have similar colourations to some common, short-haired house cats such as tabby, tortoiseshell or black. But when conditions are favourable they can grow to a much larger size, though they don’t live as long. They can travel long distances per night. Feral cats are hard to control as they are intelligent animals.