Is moonlight the ultimate weapon?

Being terrorised by house mice was a challenge I faced growing up through my primary school years. Forgetting to empty half eaten lunch from my school bag in the evening could result in large rat holes by the morning. This was a lesson that I had to learn the hard…

Wondering about wandering possums: Understanding possum movement will save our livestock

New Zealand is home to many introduced species, some of which pose threats to the native flora and fauna. One such “invader” is the brushtail possum, a cat-sized and nocturnal marsupial introduced into New Zealand during the Nineteenth Century, for the fur industry. Possums have big impacts not only on the…

The Notorious Nestor notabilis: Conservation of the Clever Kea

Hiking the Edwards-Hawdon Route in Arthur’s Pass National Park a few weeks ago, I had my first encounter with the majestic, yet devious, kea (Nestor notabilis). While stopping to catch my breath, a curious kea hopped over to greet me. I was thrilled to see this beautiful bird for the first…

Predafiles: how to solve the problem of pest mammals in NZ

Pest mammal control, in particular the use of 1080, has long been a hot topic in New Zealand. Feratox owner, Jeremy Kerr did an excellent job of reigniting the 1080 debate last year when he threatened to contaminate baby powder with the toxin. The media storm that followed highlighted the polarising nature…

It’s all about the birds, but what about the bugs?

Predator control by poisons is considered a must by many in New Zealand. This is a touchy subject to approach as people’s opinions tend to be polarised with arguments for and against. These are particularly focused on how humane these controls are, and the risk to non-target species, especially birds….

Pickling pork: control of feral pigs with sodium nitrate

Killing animals is certainly not what comes to mind first when you think about nature conservation. Sometimes, however, killing a certain species is necessary to conserve another. One of the species which is killed for the sake of conservation is the feral pig, Sus scrofa. Feral pigs are omnivorous which…

Fishing for possum DNA

“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” is a reasonably  well known quote from Theodosius Dobzhansky. It makes the point that we never really understand biology until we see it through an evolutionary filter. In recent years we could play with this quote and say “Everything in biology can make…

Who ate all the pies? Density dependent foraging between rats and possums

A Christmas tale of density dependence…. We all know the scenario. Christmas Day and you pack up the kids and wife to head to the grandparents for dinner. Lincoln to Ashburton is a fast 50 minutes of straight, flat driving over the Canterbury Plains, only enlivened by the wide Rakaia…

No prisoners! A new toxin for NZ pest mammal control

On my recent re-read of The Lord of the Rings I was struck by events that have concerned me since I read LotR as a kid, the genocidal nature of Tolkien. At the end of the major battles; Helm’s Deep, the Pelennor Fields  and at the Black Gate (and even the…

Ecoblitzing Cambridge

Over the last few days we ran a successful ecoblitz at St Peters School in Cambridge. How does an ecoblitz differ from the more common bioblitz, I hear you ask? In a bioblitz we arrive at a location and try to record all of the biodiversity at that site, typically…