Be vewy vewy quiet… New Zealand is hunting wabbits!

In which Miles tries to decide whether it’s possum hunting season, or kea hunting season.

I knew that the DOC was waging chemical warfare on invasive species.  Today I learned that New Zealand also wages biological warfare against rabbits, and that groups are seeking approval to import a new biological weapon for this purpose.

Just two posts back I mentioned  seeing no kea in Arthur’s Pass because the local population had all been killed by 1080 poison set out by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

A Google search turns up lots of interesting reading on this subject, including the suggestion that the DOC knew that kea were being killed by 1080 and kept using it in their territory.  Kea have been killed by 1080 in various other parts of New Zealand, not just Arthur’s Pass.

Preservation of New Zealand’s native birds is of course one of the important objectives of the DOC’s work.  The ‘Battle for our Birds’ predator control program is just one aspect of this work that focuses on reducing populations of invasive species that threaten the birds, such as possums and stoats.

Today I learned that the New Zealand Rabbit Coordination Group is working with Landcare Research to seek approval to introduce a new strain of virus into New Zealand to kill rabbits.  The virus is called RHDV1-K5, and is a Korean strain of the lethal calicivirus already present in New Zealand that causes rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD).

The article suggests that one motivation is to avoid farmers importing and deploying the virus illegally.

For information on the image above, and fair use of this image, visit the Wikimedia Commons.
For information on the image above, and fair use of this image, visit Wikipedia.