Q: What do you expect to achieve by 2025?
Predator Free 2050 Limited is working to help meet the interim goals government has set for 2025:
• Increase by 1 million hectares the area of mainland New Zealand where predators are suppressed.
• Demonstrate that predator eradication can be achieved in areas of mainland New Zealand of at least 20,000 hectares without the use of fences.
• Achieve eradication of all mammalian predators from New Zealand’s island nature reserves.
• Develop a breakthrough science solution capable of eradicating at least one small mammal predator from the New Zealand mainland.
Q: Do your projects use 1080?
Most of the projects we are funding are on urban and farmed landscapes and rely on intensive trapping and associated remote monitoring and surveillance technologies.
The use of aerial 1080 has proven to be an important tool for the control of predators in remote forested areas. Information about its use can be found on the Department of Conservation website.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s reports on the use of 1080 are available here.
In some areas, projects plan to coordinate our investment with scheduled 1080 operations.
In Taranaki, traps, bait stations, detection dogs and thermal imaging are being used on farmland surrounding Egmont National Park to coincide with application of aerial 1080 within it.
The aim is to completely remove possums from an initial 4,500 ha area from Kaitake Ranges down to the coast around Oākura township.
Similarly, in Westland’s 7,500 ha Perth Valley we’re funding research to see how natural alpine and river barriers can be used to keep possums, stoats and rats at zero after aerial 1080 operations.
If proven, the method could mean lasting freedom from predators and eliminate the need for repeated toxin use.
Q: Will you be using gene drives?
A recent paper in the Journal of Ornithology suggests that “current techniques will probably be inadequate to effect nationwide eradications, and new tools (possibly based on genetic technologies) will probably be required.”
We are making sure we stay well connected with international developments in the gene technology field.
Our Science Strategy Manager Prof Dan Tompkins Manager sits on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Task Force on Synthetic Biology and Biodiversity Conservation and also coordinates an inter-agency PF2050 science collaboration process.
At the moment the use gene drives to eradicate predator populations is theoretical. If it did prove to be viable then New Zealand would need to have a national conversation about gene editing for predator control and, if considered safe and desirable, introduce new regulations and approval processes to enable its use.
The Royal Society has published a discussion document on the use of gene editing for pest control.
Q: Are you targeting cats?
Cats are not one of the target species for Predator Free 2050 Limited.
However, feral cats are a serious predator and pose risks to native wildlife. Information about feral cats can be found on the Department of Conservation website.
Some projects we support are targeting wild cats within their programme of work.
Guides for responsible pet ownership are published by Forest and Bird and by councils.