Tuesday, 15 July 2014

New Zealand fights 'plague' of stoats and rats

14 July 2014 Last updated at 10:03

The New Zealand government has given the go-ahead for the poisoning of "a plague" of rats and stoats which it says threatens the country's native wildlife.

A controversial bio-degradable poison, called 1080, is to be dropped onto one million hectares (3,861 sq miles) of forest to kill the pests, TV New Zealand reports. Government figures suggest that without intervention the rat population could increase tenfold this year to 30 million. The rise is attributed to a heavy fall of seed in the country's extensive beech forests.

It's thought that once the forests' supply of fallen seeds is exhausted, the predators will turn on native birds. According to Conservation Minister Nick Smith, the lives of millions of kiwi, kawa and kea birds are at stake. "Our kiwi will not exist in the wild for our grandchildren if we do not act now," he said.

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