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Ferret Decision A Good Move

28 March 2002

New Zealand Conservation Authority

The New Zealand Conservation Authority says the just-announced ban on ferrets is an important step for preserving biodiversity in New Zealand.

Authority chair Kerry Marshall said the authority strongly supported banning ferrets when it lodged a submission with the Department of Conservation during public consultation on future options for ferret management.

“In that submission we stated our unanimous opposition to the sale or keeping of ferrets because of their proven impacts on native birds. The ban on ferrets is totally justified from a conservation point of view.

“The only possible value of ferrets is for the purpose for which they were unfortunately first introduced to New Zealand – to control rabbits – and they have had very limited success in that role.

“A five year study of predation of nests of black-fronted terns, banded dotterels and black stilts in the Mackenzie Basin 1994 to 1999 showed that ferrets are a major predator of eggs and are responsible for 22 per cent of egg loss. The even more sinister aspect of ferrets is that they don’t stop at eggs, and kill young and adult birds,” Mr Marshall said.

“In the 1980s an increase in sightings of ferrets in Northland coincided with a dramatic decline in kiwi and other birds. The ferrets either escaped or were released from farms in the area.

“I hope that the declaration that ferrets are unwanted organisms under the Biosecurity Act will mean that their impact on wildlife decreases, while any escalation of the damage they wreak will be prevented,” Mr Marshall said.


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