Conserving New Zealand’s native fauna: a review of tools being developed for the Predator Free 2050 programme

Murphy, ECR, J. C.; Broome, K. G.; Ryan, G. J.; Dowding, J. E.,  Journal of Ornithology,  160:883-892. 2019.

The endemic fauna of New Zealand evolved in the absence of mammalian predators and the introduction of the latter has been devastating. There have been numerous avian extinctions and 80% of the extant native avian taxa are currently threatened or at risk of extinction. Declines continue, and a fundamental change in predator management is required. In 2016 came the announcement of the ambitious Predator Free 2050 (PF 2050) programme, which aims to eradicate rats, mustelids, and Brushtail Possums from New Zealand by 2050. This paper reviews some of the many techniques being discussed or developed to implement the programme. Existing techniques are being refined and new tools are being developed. Research on new toxins, including those with potentially higher species specificity, is under way, and novel baits and toxin-delivery devices are being developed. Existing trap designs are being refined, and new self-resetting traps capable of multiple kills have been developed. Research is also under way on new lures and repellents. Eradications may be achieved in stages, and barriers (both natural and artificial) will be needed to protect areas already cleared. Current techniques will probably be inadequate to effect nationwide eradications, and new tools (possibly based on genetic technologies) will probably be required. Regulatory hurdles will need to be overcome, and community consultation and support (social licence) will be required throughout the programme. The use of some new technologies may be contentious, and not every new idea will necessarily be adopted. Technical, social, and organisational challenges exist, and national and international collaboration will be required for PF 2050 to succeed.