Lost Opportunity To Make New Zealand Pest-Free

A former politician took a swipe at the government for its 23 years of inaction on a pest control proposal that would have made New Zealand pest-free by now. Gerry Eckhoff, a farmer from Central Otago, said that the government’s failure to act on pest control is bordering on criminal neglect.

The pest control proposal will see to it that rabbits and stouts will only produce male offspring. Eckhoff comments came after increased sightings of wallabies in Otago and more recently in Maniototo. Regional councils across the country have neglected their responsibility and have ignored the opportunity 23 years ago.

According to the proposal made by University of Otago Professor John Knight and his son, University of California Professor Rob Knight, chromosomes of predators will be modified so only male offspring will be produced. The proposal was made to the Otago Regional Council but it was pretty much ignored.

Predator control has become a rather extraordinary liability for farmers in the community. The make use of stop-gag solutions that include 1080 poison and calicivirus (RCD) but the efforts were not sufficient enough. John Knight assumed that people will fall all over themselves with the idea that his son proposed while he was in his final year at the Otago Boy’s High School in 1994 but it they didn’t.

John Knight tried to get funding from the government for the concept but he was always turned down. He believed that it would only require $300,000 to start tests on mice. This is only a fraction of the $4 million/year used to spread 1080 poison. Pest control using 1080 poison was not effective and pests were not eradicated.

1080 poison has brought the number of possums under control but after a while they will multiply again. John Knight’s options must be considered otherwise the pest problem will get worse.

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