Highlights

  • Stoat

    Stoat

I smell you: a super-lure for stoats Dr Patrick Garvey, Manaaki Whenua and Associate Professor James Russell, University of Auckland

Most mammals have a highly developed sense of smell. In the pest control industry trappers exploit this reliance on scent to catch pests. However, food lures degrade quickly and must be replenished frequently to remain attractive so BioHeritage Challenge researchers are seeking to discover new ‘super lures’ to improve the success of pest control. Stoats are the focal predator of the research.

The team conducted pen and field experiments to explore the potential of ferret odour to increase the capture rates of stoats. Stoats are attracted to predator pheromones, particularly to the scent of ferrets. Adding ferret odour to field monitoring sites increased stoat detections three-fold. The next stage is to isolate the chemicals within ferret odour. By creating an artificial copy of the scent, the longevity of the lure can be extended and sufficient quantities produced for predator control sites around the country.

Ferret odour is already used for predator monitoring in the Cape to City programme, one of the largest operations in New Zealand and a flagship site for the BioHeritage Challenge.

PM Garvey, AS Glen, MN Clout, SV Wyse, M Nichols, RP Pech 2017. Exploiting interspecific olfactory communication to monitor predators. Ecological Applications 27: 389−402.
https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1483

The bioethics of pest management

Is killing animals for conservation acceptable? How can we incorporate a Māori world view into pest management? How will society view new technologies for pest control? How might these attitudes change over the next 20 years? These and many other questions are being debated by a bioethics panel that has been convened by James Russell and Emily Parke (University of Auckland) as part of the Novel predator control technologies project.

The panel brings together 12 leading academics and industry and community experts to horizon-scan social, cultural and ethical issues around the implementation of high-tech solutions to pest control. Membership is diverse (gender and culture) and includes experience in philosophy, law, psychology, marketing, ecology, genetics, hunting and stewardship. The panel’s first meeting was reported in Science magazine.

A science strategy for Predator-Free 2050 Ltd

Predator-Free New Zealand is an ambitious programme launched by the Government in July 2016 to rid New Zealand of our most damaging introduced predators – possums, rats and stoats – by 2050. The aim is to protect threatened native species and benefit regional economies through primary industries and tourism.

Under the umbrella of the BioHeritage Challenge, scientists from a range of organisations in New Zealand and Australia, led by Dr Dan Tompkins, developed a science strategy for PF2050 Limited’s 2025 interim goal: a ‘breakthrough science solution capable of removing one small mammal predator’.

Sir Rob Fenwick - Vision for a Predator Free New Zealand 2050

Key points from Sir Rob's speech (4.08 mins).

Sir Rob Fenwick - Vision for a Predator Free New Zealand 2050 from Nicola Smith on Vimeo.

Extended coverage

Extended coverage of Sir Rob's speech (13.26 mins).

Sir Rob Fenwick - Vision for a Predator Free New Zealand 2050 from Nicola Smith on Vimeo.

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