War on Rats! New Zealand Pledges to Become Rat, Possum Free by 2050
New Zealand is waging an all-out war against rats, possums and stoats to make the country predator-free by 2050.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key made the announcement earlier this week via a press release, saying that predators have been one of the major threats in New Zealand's wildlife apart from poaching and deforestation. Rats, stoats and possums have also been reported to cost the economy a huge setback of around $3.3 billion a year.
“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them," Key said.
Key said they will set up a new venture company called Predator Free New Zealand Limited, which will work with the private sector to achieve the country's goal of a predator-free New Zealand by 2050.
Key said the government will be investing $28 million to the said project along with the its pest control funding of around $60 to $80 million.
"This ambitious project is the latest step in the National-led Government’s commitment to protecting our environment," Key said. "We are committed to its sustainable management and our track record speaks for itself."
An extreme challenge
However, CBS News reported that scientists are a bit iffy about the goal, saying that it will be extremely hard to achieve considering the geographical size of New Zealand.
Jacqueline Beggs, an ecologist, said it will require a lot of hard work and will "stretch boundaries" as the pest eradication is now at a bigger scale.
Still, Key is positive that through the cooperation of New Zealanders, their goal of a predator-free country will be possible.
He said, "We know we can do it because we have shown time and again what can be achieved when New Zealanders come together with the ambition, willpower and wherewithal to make things happen.”