No More Pests

March 10, 2017
New Zealand has an ambitious plan to get rid of rats and other invasive mammals.
TIM JAMES & MABEL GRAY—ALAMY

To save its birds, New Zealand has a big plan to get rid of rats.

New Zealand has a pest problem. The country has a plan to solve it. The country’s leaders want to get rid of rats and other predatory mammals by 2050.

New Zealand has a plan to get rid of rats and other invasive mammals.

TIM JAMES AND MABEL GRAY—ALAMY

In New Zealand, rats are an invasive species. Long ago, rats came to the country on boats, with humans.

Possums are also an invasive species. They were brought to New Zealand for their fur. But now there are too many possums in New Zealand. They eat the eggs and young of native birds.

Kiwis cannot fly. There are only about 68,000 of the birds left in New Zealand.

JOHN STONE—NEW ZEALAND HERALD/AP

Each year, rats, possums, and other mammals kill about 25 million of New Zealand’s native birds. Many of these birds, including the kiwi, cannot fly. That is a big problem for the birds. They cannot fly to safety. As a result, several of New Zealand’s birds are nearly extinct.

The government of New Zealand recommends several ways to get rid of pests, including traps.

STEPHEN BELCHER—MINDEN PICTURES/ALAMY

A Big Goal

New Zealand plans to spend more than $20 million to get rid of rats and other mammals. Traps and poison will be used.

A sign at the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, in Wellington, warns people to keep pests out.

NICK PERRY—AP

It is a big goal. But scientists say it can be met. “I really do think it’s possible,” says James Russell. He is a scientist. “It will require people working in every nook and corner of the country,” Russell says.

Think!

How can the people of New Zealand work together to solve the country’s pest problem?

Alien Invaders

There are more than 4,000 invasive species in the U.S. Read about three of them. Then answer the questions.

LAURA WICKENDEN—GETTY IMAGES

NAME: Burmese python

WHERE THEY ARE FROM: Burma and other countries in Southeast Asia

HOW THEY ARRIVED: They were brought in as pets.

WHY THEY ARE A THREAT: They prey on animals. They upset ecosystems.

BARBARA STRNADOVA—GETTY IMAGES

NAME: Asian long-horned beetle

WHERE THEY ARE FROM: Eastern China and North and South Korea

HOW THEY ARRIVED: They came in wood that was used as packing material.

WHY THEY ARE A THREAT: They tunnel into trees and leave holes. They have killed many trees.

SIMON MURRELL—GETTY IMAGES

NAME: Giant African snail

WHERE THEY ARE FROM: East Africa

HOW THEY ARRIVED: They may have arrived in luggage or been brought in as pets.

WHY THEY ARE A THREAT: They eat many kinds of plants. They also spread disease.

1. Which species came from Africa? 

2. Which species hurts trees?

3. How did the Burmese python arrive in the U.S.?

4. Which species spreads disease?

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