Massive Poison Spray in New Zealand Wipes out Pests

New Zealand’s contentious program to eradicate rats, possums and stoats by dropping toxins and placing traps has brought the populations of those pests to undetectable or very low levels at most sites, officials say.

The country’s Department of Conservation announced that its field monitoring of sites across the South Island shows that a small number of the endangered birds the program was intended to protect died during the poisoning.

But they said a 1-in-15-year bumper crop of beech seeds would have fueled a huge population explosion of the invasive pests had the poisoning program not been launched last year.

The department also said the breeding success of rock wren, robin and other bird species was significantly higher in areas treated with the controversial poison known as 1080.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry told reporters that the program’s success is “a welcome victory for endangered native species.”

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