Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Predator free New Zealand and the 'war' on pests: is it a just war?

Abstract

Conservation policy in New Zealand is centred around an objective to totally eradicate three invasive species; the ship rat (Rattus rattus), the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and the stoat (Mustela erminea), by 2050. The preferred control method to achieve this is large scale poisoning operations with 1080 and similar toxins. This project is backed up by governmental and non-governmental agencies and surrounded with discourse of 'war' and 'invasion'. The 'Big Three' predators are endowed with sinister motives as a means of mobilising support. This self-described 'war' is evaluated in terms of 'just war' theory and found wanting. In particular there are issues with the recruitment of children for killing, humiliation of combatants, questionable economic motives for the 'war', deception by government agencies, lack of consultation, a lack of consideration of alternatives, the use of excessive suffering, and unrealistic expectations. An alternative paradigm of 'compassionate conservation' is proposed for New Zealand. Instead of trying to get back to a stable pre-colonial state of nature, I propose a holistic approach that respects both ecosystems and their members and takes into account new understandings of ecosystems as dynamic processes.