New Zealand - poisonous experiences close to the ground

An invasive species is an exotic species that causes damage to human interests. By Presidential Executive Order, "'invasive species' means, with regard to a particular ecosystem, a non-native organism whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human, animal, or plant health."  So all invasive species are exotic species, but all exotic species are not invasive species.

Zealandia is a wildlife sanctuary for native species, and is located in the heart of New Zealand's capital, Wellington. 

A display at Zealandia detailing the process for tracking rats, mice, and small predators like stoats.

It seems that everyone we talked to from New Zealand or Australia knew about invasive species and their impacts, and could list the major species of concern.  This would not be true in the US.  I would guess that those Aussies and Kiwis have been indoctrinated (in a good way) from an early age about the unique flora and fauna of their respective countries, and of the impacts of invasive species on the endemic species.  

Like Hawaii, New Zealand animal and plant life coevolved in the absence of terrestrial mammals other than a limited number of bats.  The introduction of rats, cats, ungulates, brushtail possums, rabbits, and stoats has had major impacts on the bird and plant life (land use decisions and the introduction of cattle and sheep also had major, major impacts).

Red-crowned parakeet in Wellington.

Notice of night shooting for possum control.
So that brings me to the purpose of this particular post.  In the US, wildlife damage management is often done "under cover," or hidden from view.  In NZ, it is conducted boldly, obviously, and with public consent.  There are stoat and rat traps right along hiking trails, and dog-killing toxicants where there are... dogs!  The poisons are not there to hurt the dogs, obviously, but dog owners know to keep their dogs in sight and under control.  The sign at the top of this post states "Watch children at all times."  Can you picture these warnings in the US?

Go mountain biking, but don't play with the poison baits!

Sign above a display in Zealandia, educating visitors about the traps they will see throughout the nature preserve.

Major 8.5 km long fencing in background to keep out digging, climbing, and jumping invasive mammals.  This fence makes Zealandia an island of sanctuary in Wellington, protecting native birds like the Tūī, shown here.

Caroline with our nature guides, Deb and Stuart, at Zealandia.

Oh, and our visit was on Saint Patrick's Day! I'm 16% Irish!


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