New Zealand has just passed half a century of rodent eradications on islands. Confirmation of the first rat eradication in New Zealand on Maria Island/Ruapuke coincided with the devastating rat invasion on Big South Cape Island/Taukihepa. We review the early history of rodent management in New Zealand leading up to and including the Big South Cape Island/Taukihepa ship rat invasion, and document the development and implementation of rodent eradication technologies on New Zealand islands up to the present day.
Introduced rodents and possums in New Zealand eat flowers, fruits, seeds and seedlings, but little is known about their impact on forest regeneration. We investigated seedling establishment in exclosures with mesh of two different sizes to exclude (1) possums and (2) possums and rats, at two mainland forest sites (beechpodocarpbroadleaved and second-growth broadleavedpodocarp) near Dunedin. We recorded all new woody seedlings that established over the next 2 years.
Efficient detection techniques will confirm the presence of a species at a site where the species exists, and are essential for effective population monitoring and for assessing the outcome of management programmes. However, detection techniques vary in their ability to detect different species. A wide range of mammalian predator species, most introduced into New Zealand since the late 18th century, have had a detrimental impact on the native flora and fauna.
A recent advance in biosecurity surveillance design aims to benefit island conservation through early and improved detection of incursions by non-indigenous species. The novel aspects of the design are that it achieves a specified power of detection in a cost-managed system, while acknowledging heterogeneity of risk in the study area and stratifying the area to target surveillance deployment. The design also utilises a variety of surveillance system components, such as formal scientific surveys, trapping methods, and incidental sightings by non-biologist observers.
The effectiveness of Feracol®, a possum control paste bait containing 0.8% cholecalciferol, as a rodenticide has been assessed in cage and field trials. Caged rats were provided with toxic bait in choice and no-choice tests. Feracol® was readily eaten when presented as the sole food source or with other food, and was effective at killing rats in both situations. Wild-caught and laboratory rats (n = 35), comprising both ship (Rattus rattus) and Norway rats (R. norvegicus), were presented with 30 g of Feracol® alone or with an equivalent toxic bait over 48 h.