Public perceptions of the use of novel pest control methods

  • Preparing bait stations. Image - Ivor Yockney

    Preparing bait stations. Image - Ivor Yockney

One of the nation’s largest surveys on public attitudes toward new pest control technologies has shown that most New Zealanders support the need for pest control.

Carried out in 2017, the BioHeritage Challenge survey assessed the perceptions, beliefs and attitudes of 8,000 people, including about 1,000 Māori.

Led by the Department of Conservation’s Dr Edy MacDonald, the nationwide team surveyed perspectives of new and emerging methods of pest and predator control, starting with tools to control wasps and rats.

The survey found that:

  • 84% agree pest species are a significant conservation problem
  • 14% think current pest control measures are adequate
  • 61% are aware of New Zealand’s goal to become Predator Free by 2050.

In relation to potential pest control technologies including gene drive, the survey found:

  • 32% were comfortable with these developments
  • 18% felt they should never be used
  • 50% were undecided or wanted strong controls
  • 42% supported trojan female techniques
  • 52% supported a species-specific toxin.

Overall, the survey findings illustrated the varying viewpoints of the New Zealand public. This highlights the importance of continuing open and transparent public discussions while inventors and scientists start the process of developing new pest control technologies.

This project contributes to BioHeritage’s goal of future-proofing New Zealand’s biosecurity system from threats posed by weeds, pests, plant pathogens and other drivers of global environmental change.

BioHeritage’s role is to break down barriers between organisations and individual scientists by coordinating and focusing the research of top scientists from our 18 Challenge Parties.

This project is being driven by Challenge Partythe Department of Conservation, that’s working closely with Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Otago University, Auckland University, and Victoria University of Wellington.

Dept of Conservation

Exploring public acceptance of novel technologies for pest control

Edy MacDonald, Friday 8 December 2017

Robyn L. Kannemeyer, May 2017. A systematic literature review of attitudes to pest control methods in New Zealand. Prepared for: New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

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