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Ferret Ban Welcomed

Forest and Bird warmly welcomed the ban on the sale, distribution and breeding of ferrets announced by the Minister of Conservation today.

Forest and Bird's Senior Researcher Barry Weeber said that a ban on the sale, distribution and breeding of ferrets is necessary because of their impacts on wildlife and their transmission of disease.

"Ferrets are vicious predators of ground-dwelling native bird species including kiwi, weka, dotterels and penguins. They can also transmit Tuberculosis to cattle and spread the human influenza virus."

Mr Weeber said that unlike stoats and weasels, ferrets are capable of killing adult kiwi. "The survival of kiwi on the mainland is in grave doubt, Forest and Bird is pleased that the Government has chosen the kiwi over the ferret."

"Ferrets also engage in 'spree killing', where they slaughter more prey than they can eat at one time."

Mr Weeber said the Minister received resounding support for a complete ban on ferrets as pets in submissions on the discussion paper released in 1999.

"Conservationists, farmers, regional councils and the general public were united in their concern over the environmental and economic damage escaped pet ferrets can cause."

"Over one thousand submissions were received on the discussion document. About 77% percent of all submissions received from individuals requested a total ban on the keeping of ferrets by anyone in New Zealand, a view supported by Forest and Bird."

Mr Weeber said this decision will help support regional councils who are seeking to ban pet ferrets. Many Regional Pest Management Strategies are currently up for review.

"The recent ferret scare on Great Barrier Island in January provides support for a ban."

"Great Barrier Island is free of ferrets, making it a relatively safe haven for some of New Zealand's threatened native species including kaka and fernbirds. The introduction of ferrets to the island would be a conservation disaster," Mr Weeber concluded.


What can we do about Ferrets?

Forest and Bird summary of key findings from submissions on the Public Discussion Document.

The Public Discussion Document "what can we do about ferrets?" was produced by the Department of Conservation, outlining options for tightening the control of ferrets kept as pets or farmed. Submissions closed on December 31 1999.

The results of the analysis of submissions showed:

* Overwhelming support for a complete ban on keeping ferrets by anyone, anywhere in New Zealand (77% of submissions from individual respondents). * * A very high rate of response (over 1,000 submissions received) - particularly considering that the closing date was the last day of the millennium! * * Conservationists, farmers, rural and environmental organisations, recreational hunters and regional councils were united in their support for a ban on keeping ferrets. * * Strong public feeling on the issue of ferrets - 92% of submissions were from individuals. * * A high level of public awareness about the threat to wildlife and biodiversity. 36% of individuals commented on this. * * Awareness of the role of ferrets in transmitting tuberculosis (Tb) to cattle. 80 individuals, as well as submitters from the rural sector, commented on this. * * A substantial submission (46 pages) was received from Forest and Bird Head Office. This considered a number of options for ferret control, and concluded that the status quo was not an option. Forest and Bird proposed a nationwide ban on keeping ferrets, including a 'sunset clause' of five years for existing pet ferrets.

"The strongest course of action would be to prohibit the keeping of ferrets by anyone throughout New Zealand"

This was the only comment made on a complete ban (the rest of the document focused on tightening controls). Despite the lack of detail on this option, the vast majority of respondents supported a complete ban.


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