NZ Plans to Kill Every Rat, Feral Cat, and Possum
In the world's 'most ambitious conservation project'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2016 8:00 AM CDT
Updated Jul 25, 2016 9:41 AM CDT
A rat visits Union Square in New York.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

(Newser) – New Zealand could soon be the envy of New York. The country has announced a "world-first" project to exterminate all non-native pests, including possums, stoats, feral cats, and rats by 2050, reports the Guardian. Why? Well, the pests, which the government says cost $2.3 billion per year, also kill about 25 million native birds each year, including 20 Kiwis per week. Only 70,000 Kiwis are now known to exist. The Royal Society of New Zealand Forest and Bird says it's excited about the plan, though other groups have been working to eradicate the pests for years. "I think 2050 is a conservative goal, we could be on track to doing it by 2040," a rep says.

Some 7,000 hectares of New Zealand are pest-free thanks to poison and strategic fencing, but "our ambition is that by 2050 every single part of New Zealand will be completely free of rats, stoats, and possums," Prime Minister John Key says, calling this the "most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world." Predator Free New Zealand—with a budget of $19.5 million per year, reports Time—will now boost pest control across the country. The hope is that technological advances will allow for at least one pest to be eradicated by 2025, reports Radio NZ. Critics fear the entire project could cost $6.2 billion, per the New Zealand Herald.