Rat plague crisis about to hit, warns Forest & Bird

Predictions of a pest plague next winter and spring are ripe given the significant level of beech flowering occurring now, says Forest & Bird advocate Kevin Hackwell.

A rat in a kererū egg (Photo by Nga Manu).

“An abundance of beech spring flowering will translate into an abundance of seed next autumn, known as “masting”, which in turn leads to an eruption of rat and stoat predator populations,” says Mr Hackwell.

Department of Conservation monitoring has confirmed the widespread occurrence of abundant beech flowering.

A mast year occurred in 2014 which resulted in the Department of Conservation allocating significant funds towards pest control by delaying staff appointments.

“That funding option is not available to DOC this year as those positions are now filled, so we urgently need the Government to allocate emergency funding for pest control.”

Mr Hackwell says a pest plague will threaten many of our endangered and threatened species, and set back crucial protection and restoration work for our native species.

“It is crucial that the Government urgently commits to emergency funding for substantial pest control, so that the Department of Conservation can begin the planning of a comprehensive response right now” said Mr Hackwell.