During my time in New Zealand and my increasing interest in Conservation of native species here, I feel a important question is at the centre of this…is it murder? Is it right to preserve species by killing others?
When people arrived in New Zealand, it marked the beginning of the end for many native species such as flightless birds (like the Moa) either because they were hunted or because people brought species with them which predated on native species or increased competition with them.
At the end of the day, people are to blame. The real difference between New Zealand and many other places is that as this is a relatively new country, we live in a more enlightened age and people have a chance to reverse those mistakes and save those we have impacted for the future.
However, to do this, rats, stoats, ferrets, mice, possums and more have to be managed by trapping, hunting, poisoning etc…often killing other species in the process. I find this quite hard to accept in some ways but also acknowledge that without it many species do not stand a chance. Conservation is, in this case at least, about killing…but people also need to change in the way they behave and in the way they manage their pets (cats and dogs in particular).
The New Zealand government has stated that they want New Zealand to be completely pest-free by 2050. This is an incredibly ambitious statement of intent and one which I would love to see become reality because a land without wildlife is barren and without joy.
There have already been some remarkable success stories such as rescuing the Chatham Island Black Robin from just one surviving female and I hope that more rescues can rejuvenate this land and many others around the world.