Strategic technologies for managing pests
Mammal pests (possums, rats, stoats, and mice) are a major threat to NZ’s biodiversity, and possums also the major wildlife contributor to TB persistence. The cost of control tools for these species limits the extent and frequency that control can be applied, and consequently, much of NZ’s iconic biodiversity is still sliding towards local extinction.
High control costs impact in the same way on achieving TB freedom for New Zealand, which depends on maintaining possum densities at very low levels for 10 or more years. Furthermore, the on-going use of some control tools, especially 1080, is being increasingly challenged because of public concerns about risks of adverse impacts on non-target species and the environment, and on animal welfare grounds.
To address these needs our research is developing cost-effective tools and applications for multi-species pest control by:
- reducing costs,
- reducing adverse impacts, and
- increasing community engagement with pest control.
In the first aim we are re-engineering smart new delivery technologies for aerial delivery, and new approaches to ground control with an improved understanding of pest behaviour that together minimise pest survival over large areas.
The second aim will mitigate adverse impacts through
- novel use of synergists to minimise welfare, residue, and economic costs,
- repellents to minimise risks to non-target species, and
- novel bait delivery systems to improved target specificity.
In the third research aim we are developing and testing ways to achieve positive public dialogue and participation in pest management decision-making, including the novel use of ecological games to help participants visualise the ecological, wildlife disease, and economic trade-offs in their decision-making.