Unexpected discovery leads to breakthrough in pest eradication
The invention of the microwave, like many great human discoveries, was actually made by accident. Now, an unexpected discovery about New Zealand’s stoats may help in the battle to eradicate these pests from our country.
When the Auckland University and Landcare Research group conducted experiments on stoats, they found that - contrary to what you might expect – these pests are actually attracted to the smell of their enemies.
That is to say, rather than running from the scent of cats and ferrets, stoats will actually be drawn to areas that smell of their two common enemies.
The team discovered this after placing food sources in two locations; one that smelled of cats and ferrets, and the other where that scent was absent. Where the smell was present, the food was eaten faster.
While it’s not yet understood why stoats would opt for this option, the knowledge may now be used by conservation groups to help rid New Zealand of these pests.
Traps are a common form of predator control, and finding effective ways to lure stoats and other pests into those traps is an important part of catching as many as possible. Should the smell of cats and ferrets truly be an effective form of baiting, it could help the country work towards its predator-free goal by 2050.
Patrick Garvey, a university doctoral student working on the project, was optimistic about the discovery when speaking to the NZ Herald.
“It’s something new, and it’s something that can be used as part of other methods to ensure we do the best we can for conservation,” he explained.
Trapping is just one of many effective methods currently in use around New Zealand to help control and remove pests for the good of our native and endangered flora and fauna.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist