High tech solutions to invasive mammal pests

This year the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge in New Zealand launches its project on high tech solutions to invasive mammal pests, hosted by the University of Auckland. The high tech solutions project aims to deliver the long-term science solutions which will become a part of Predator Free New Zealand. In July 2016 the New Zealand government officially adopted Predator Free New Zealand and in December appointed the PFNZ2050 board of directors and announced its commitment to the Honolulu Challenge. In 2017 the high tech solutions project will commence researching the science which will eventually be needed to achieve the 2050 target.

The Listener cover for PFNZ
The Listener cover for PFNZ

The high tech solutions project is one of a number that fall within the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge – one of eleven national science challenges announced by the New Zealand government in May 2013. These challenges were designed to enable institutional cooperation towards addressing pressing problems facing New Zealand where science could play a critical role. Other projects in the Biological Heritage challenge include biological heritage assessment, ecosystem restoration and a myriad of other biosecurity projects. The Biological Heritage challenge will be holding its first annual meeting in May 2017 at the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa.

Stoats are a major invasive predator in New Zealand where new lures are required (Photo by Patrick Garvey)

The high tech solutions project will enable a number of important research developments. These include investigating genetic tools which could enable additional or replacing pest control techniques, testing novel lures and biosensors for managing invasive mammals, and strategies for optimising Predator Free New Zealand. The project also includes three advisory groups: Nga Matapopere, a bioethics panel, and a small mammal collective. Each of these will provide broader perspectives on cultural, ethical and logistical perspectives on the implementation of novel invasive mammal pest control technologies and strategies. With the countdown ticking for Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 the high tech solutions project intends to get the ball rolling over the next three years to set New Zealand up strongly for achieving the 2025 interim goals.

Read All Posts by James Russell

Conservation biologist Dr. James Russell works throughout the world on remote islands and other sites to provide conservation solutions by applying a combination of scientific methods. Follow James on National Geographic voices for regular updates on his own work or other exciting developments in island conservation.
  • George Robinson

    With this type of approach the project is certain to fail.
    What an absolutely ridiculous waste of money this whole fantasy is.
    After 40 plus years in the pest management industry I know the idea is too stupid to seriously consider.
    Whoever came up with the idea has absolutely no concept of what they are proposing.
    Do they not realise there is an army of people who will be repopulating every area they attempt to poison.
    The idea is lunacy.

  • I’m confused by your comment and what “type of approach” you refer to George as there was no mention of poison in this article. The high tech solutions project is looking at non-toxin solutions to predator control.

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