We are constantly assessing the potential of new tools for predator eradication. In the future these could include such areas as artificial intelligence, species-specific toxins and drones.
Currently, new genetic tools such as ‘gene-drive’ are being discussed globally for pest management. However, these may be practically unfeasible, carry too many risks, or be socially unacceptable for a role in Predator Free 2050. This programme will consider knowledge gaps to enable informed consideration of options.
- Assessing potential utility – Mathematical modelling will inform on whether gene-drive could actually make a meaningful contribution to the eradication of real-world rat populations, beyond what could be achieved through other approaches.
- Underpinning rat genomic resources – Genome sequencing in collaboration with Genomics Aotearoa, the Biological Heritage Challenge and CSIRO will increase our understanding of New Zealand’s rat populations, including the feasibility of their potential genetic control.
- Technical genetic tool development for rats – Dependent on technological hurdles being surmounted, supportive policy, and New Zealand/international appetite to proceed, gene-drives may potentially be researched in the future for application initially to rat eradication.