Six reasons not to start backyard trapping

Department of Conservation —  04/01/2018

Predator Free Ranger Kat Lane recently spent time at the NZ Flower and Garden Show chatting with visitors about backyard trapping. Of the over 1,400 visitors, only 9% were trapping pests in their backyard. These were some of the reasons people weren’t backyard trapping:

1. I don’t want traps in my garden in case my chickens or cat get into them by mistake

Most of the traps we recommend for your backyard are designed to keep cats and chickens out. You can put the trap inside a trapping tunnel that only animals like rats and mice can fit into.

Trapping tunnel with small opening in mesh to allow rats and mice to enter.

Trapping tunnel with small opening in mesh to allow rats and mice to enter.

2. I don’t have a big garden, I live in an apartment

Check with your landlord to see if they are doing any pest control around the building that you could help out with. If they aren’t, you could be just the right person to help them get started!

3. I don’t need any traps in my back yard, my cat catches everything

We still encourage home owners to trap in their backyards as well. Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds. This is when rats are most active so it’s wise to have traps in place as well. As an added bonus, keeping them inside at night will stop cats from leaving dead rats and mice on your kitchen floor early in the morning!

Cat. Photo: Jennifer Barnard.

Photo: Jennifer Barnard

4. But my cat doesn’t kill birds, so I don’t need to keep it in at night

Cats mainly hunt on the ground and are capable of killing ground-nesting birds up to the size of adult kiwi and kererū. They have superb hearing and night vision, are extremely mobile and have a large home range (meaning they will roam far from your property). Cats have been responsible for eliminating entire bird species such as the Stephens Island wren and it is not uncommon for cats to consume over 30 lizards in one hunting season. So even if you don’t see your cats bringing home native birds or lizards, it’s safer to keep them indoors during the night when they would ordinarily do the majority of their hunting.

5. I don’t need to trap hedgehogs because they aren’t a pest

Hedgehogs were introduced to New Zealand to control garden pests such as slugs, snails and grass grubs, so some people see hedgehogs as beneficial to have around. Unfortunately, their habitat has not been confined to gardens or their diet to garden pests and they have now become a threat themselves. Today hedgehogs are widespread across the country and pose a significant threat to native wildlife, especially insects and lizards. They also eat eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds, with those in coastal and riverbed locations being particularly vulnerable.

GoodNature self-resetting trap mounted on tree. Photo: Annie Dick.

GoodNature self-resetting trap mounted on tree. Photo: Annie Dick

6. I don’t want to deal with dead stuff

The Goodnature self-resetting traps are a great way to avoid having to remove any dead creatures from traps. The dead rats, stoats or possums are often removed by other predators. Plus, you don’t need to check the traps regularly and can leave them in place to do their thing for months.

You can find out more about how to start backyard trapping on our website.

Also, don’t forget to check out the Predator Free NZ website to see if there’s a local group near you that you can register your traps with.

Please note that it is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 to use any inhumane methods to dispatch of predators. Approved methods for dispatching of predators using kill traps are outlined in our PF2050 trapping guide. All of these traps have been approved by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and comply with The Animal Welfare Act 1999.

70 responses to Six reasons not to start backyard trapping

    Neil Foster 23/03/2018 at 8:30 am

    I read with sadness the nonsense put into words by very one sided people , Martin Nicholls makes some good points but unfortunately its not a perfect world and 1080 has been used now for around 50 years with no lasting effects in that the immediate knock down of pests is wonderful but it needs maintaining or we have a worse problem…This is not possible obviously so 1080 is not the answer it was believed to be. We need good science to step in whether genetic work or similar to solve this ugly problem we have..
    However nobody seems to notice right under our nose, agriculture using toxins like there is no tomorrow, poisoning streams killing off birds like Pipit..Seems its not a problem.
    I read this morning that France has lost 2/3 of its birds in recent years to pesticides, They however don’t use them as freely as we do…Food for though…Neil Foster

      Martin Broadbent 23/03/2018 at 8:40 am

      Well said Neil but your good points will fall on deaf arrogant ears. The DoC in their eyes do not get it wrong and will not take criticism positively. The amount of poisons used in this country is firmly out of control. 1080 is a scam anyway when you see the same people using it and manufacture it. Whatever we say isn’t going to change the way they go about it.

        Neil Foster 23/03/2018 at 8:55 am

        In reply to Matin, I never said I was opposed to the use of 1080 only my point is that its only effective if its application is repeated, and repeated which is not economically feasible, its ecologically undesirable and therefor is not the answer long term.
        Regarding Cats, They are the worst predator of our native species and because of stupid mindset people are reluctant to trap them.
        If however they are not included in a trapping program they will become specialists in hunting birds as the rats, mice etc have been taken out..
        I trap a wetland on my own initiative as no local body or depts will support me financially.
        I have noticed all the Spotless Crake rearing young to maturity this season, also huge broods of Ducklings none of this I saw before the trapping.
        I have removed over 300 Rats, Stoats, Cats, Ferrets, Weasels and Hedgehogs from the area and the results speak for themselves..
        So while your all arguing, Ill carry on helping where I can..
        I also photograph our wildlife and post images to wildbird2015 at Flickr, to raise awareness of our dwindling resources…..
        This is not to pat myself on the back but to encourage others to follow suit…its worth it believe me…Neil Foster

        Martin Broadbent 23/03/2018 at 9:07 am

        Incidentally your cat phobia is not true and you a just paying lip service to those who do. There ARE NOT any scientific reports to base you false beliefs on that cats are a problem. You have no right to kill them, your initial comment was good but now you are making yourself look like a dummy.

      Martin Broadbent 23/03/2018 at 9:02 am

      Well I’m shocked to your hypocritical view point. You can see 1080 isn’t working and even though it’s known to even kill birds in a horrific way you are for it. I think you better make your mind up.


    Agree with Martin – you need to look at what World renown Marc Bekoff – professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and a past Guggenheim Fellow writes:

    New Zealand’s programme “Predator-Free 2050” set is flawed and unrealistic says an American professor, an expert in both biology and ecology.
    The bloody decision by some New Zealanders to try to return to what used to be by slaughtering millions of non-native animals is troubling from biological and ethical perspectives, says Dr. Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado
    People who want to mass kill non-native invasive animals, also called pests, naively think that such widespread slaughter will be the panacea and return New Zealand’s landscapes to what they used to be.

    Jen Roberts 24/01/2018 at 9:06 am

    Well good morning Martin!! I really yanked your chain didn’t I. I should be sorry ……nah. By the way can you please answer my questions, you seem to be struggling.

      Martin Broadbent 27/01/2018 at 7:47 pm

      I most certainly wish there was an answer for the survival of native birds to New Zealand.
      Personally I feel the invasion made by people around the world settling here and bringing mainly what is now intensive farming is the root cause to the problem. Farming has caused deforestation and land clearing in general and it has had a massive affect on natural habitat.
      Even though farms are now in place logging is the next major problem.
      I’m sorry to say that these industries are going nowhere and as much as you try to fight against introduced predators it’s simply to difficult to destroy them or control them.
      Even if you did manage to do it the habitat has vanished and the whole ecosystem as it was is not here anymore.
      1080 is certainly not the answer as it simply poisoning natives directly or secondary through the infected food chain.
      To blame cats is abhorrent extremism and those behind this are, as I believe, sadistical manipulators.
      Unfortunately the balance of the old ecosystem has gone and it’s time to let what we have now to adapt just like any other species around the world has had to with the invasion of man and all the misery it brings for our planets wildlife.

    Jen Roberts 22/01/2018 at 7:52 pm

    No one said that 1080 is the big answer, but I do know one thing – we haven’t got alot of other options.The area of NZ is approx. 26,800,000 ha and a good amount of it is inaccessable. I am one of thousands of volunteers that dedicate alot of personal time and money to conservation every week, every year. I am 1 of a 3 person team, we clear 350 traps on a 560 ha block every weekend, every week, all year. Anyone who wants to critisize DOC and conservation volunteers needs to get off their backsides and do some work before they are entitled to an opinion. Our trap tallies make scarey reading. We trap rats, stoats, weasels, ferrets, possums,goats, hedge hogs, magpies – and cats. The rat tallies alone can reach 200 a month. One day in frustration I said to my Dad (he has been volunteering for 30 years), “where do all these rats come from”? He said one word – “Towns”.

      martin Broadbent 22/01/2018 at 10:04 pm

      Ordinarily I would type out a long reply to your comment Jen but I can see how pious and pompous you have become. Your work is useless and cruel by the way. Have you not noticed your methods of extermination only encourage the circle of life to continue? Cruelty for no good reason. Carry on with 1080 and there most certainly will be no growth in numbers for native birds. I wonder why the term “the village idiot” was not aimed at towns??

        Jen Roberts 23/01/2018 at 6:59 am

        And whats your solution? Because in case you haven’t noticed there is a serious problem. We farm on the edge of a town and our cat problem is huge. Last year we got 42 cats and just about all of them were pregnant or had kittens. You say I’m cruel, its not the cats fault that they are dumped. And what about the wild life, do you think it doesn’t hurt them to die? Get a reality check.

        Martin Broadbent 23/01/2018 at 7:10 am

        What exactly are these cats doing to your farm?
        That cats are more than likely dealing with the rodents you are trapping yourself. Think about that before you demonise cats. If you are killing domestic cats your are doing so illegally and you should be reported to the police whether or not that they are wondering onto your precious land. You are in the wrong here.

        Jen Roberts 23/01/2018 at 7:51 am

        Oh I’m sorry, I should run a health spa for cats where they come for pampering before they give birth.(You are welcome to add sarcastic to my character description) They are dumped by their owners so they can die of starvation and disease, and wouldn’t you know it – dumping animals is against the law. The cats get so hungry they will attack my chooks. Heres some reliable info for you – if a cat and a rat have a fight, my money is on the rat to win. Love to sit and chat but I have alot of piousing and pomping to do.

        Martin Broadbent 23/01/2018 at 7:58 am

        What a load of rubbish, I know for a fact they hunt mice etc. and for attacking your chooks is a joke. Cats don’t starve in the wild and they are not prone for disease either. You are scaremongering about cats to cover your actions. Shameful.

        Martin Broadbent 23/01/2018 at 7:19 am

        Incidentally if the wildlife feel pain don’t you think the animals you gleefully kill also feel pain? I think I know who needs a reality check !

        Diane O'Connor 23/01/2018 at 8:30 am

        Jen, you show no interest in the facts, you just want excuses to continue your cruel killing cycle.

      Diane O'Connor 23/01/2018 at 7:38 am

      .Jen what about the people that are dumping the cats, they are the problem and they get off scott free to continue to the cycle. They never get a mention it is just kill the cats. We are in this killing cycle and we need to step back and look at what is causing this. Including getting the real facts. If I was a volunteer and someone asking for research and it was not provided I would think twice. We need to get to the truth and look for solutions from there. That is probably why as you say it is frustrating as they keep coming.

        Jen Roberts 24/01/2018 at 8:46 am

        Hi Dianne, I totally agree about dumping cats, people for what ever reason can’t keep their cats and we have the SPCA help with the issue, perhaps they don’t fully understand SPCA’s role, or it might be a situation out of control? . On a slightly different subject, Norfolk Island is an interesting little place. The locals have cats and dogs but their attitude to letting their pet have a litter is a polar opposite to NZer’s. I’ll check it out to see if they have laws around it. Also check out what’s happening in New York with rat populations, instead of killing the rats the authorities are feeding them some type of sterilisation. The plan is to slow their breeding down but the rats will still protect their territory, solving the problem of reinfestation that results from totally erradicating an area. The unofficial word is ( I could be mistaken) is that DSIR are trialling it but it will have to be proven not to transfer into other species. At the end of the day I’m sure we all want the same thing, we want to preserve our unique wildlife. I’m almost 60 and I reckon things started to ‘flip’ in the bush about 35 years ago. As a child I can remember many native birds in the garden and at night we could hear kiwi calling. I want that so badly for my grandchildren. I am concerned that by the time we have found the solutions its going to be too late, and I’m pretty sure DoC has the same worry. On a lighter note I do have a very old cat called Gordon and he is so in charge of me.Nice chatting to you

        Diane O'Connor 24/01/2018 at 3:37 pm

        Hi Jen. I think you are right we all want the same thing. Where I live I feed the birds everyday both native and non-native and we have eels in our creek, that our neighbourhood protects. They are huge. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all come together and work for all animals. With people dumping cats that is the most frustrating problem as it can stop immediately, if people choose not to do it. But sadly it so much easier to dump a cat than go to the effort of finding them a new home .Yes it is against the law and a cruel practice in my opinion but sadly I feel it is accepted by most NZ’s, that we dump cats in our society .It may not be ok with them but we all still accept it. I include myself in that as well. There is never an uproar or outrage about a cat being dumped, it hardly gets a mention. That is something that needs to change for everybody. We really need to educate the public that this it is not acceptable. I’m sure we all would agree on that. I agree with sterilisation as it would be affective and humane method and it I would interested in hearing more on that. Gordon sounds adorable as cats tend to be in charge of us, don’t they. Mine are the same.

    Pauline Robertson 20/01/2018 at 8:04 am

    I feel sorry for whoever is at doc having to read the pro carry and anti 1080 trite.. you are doing your part to help conserve our heritage so keep it up.

    We will look back on these views in the same way we look back on the acclimatisation of pests to nz…utterly stupid.

      Diane O'Connor 20/01/2018 at 10:22 am

      As the saying goes “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” I think it is utterly stupid to believe ridiculous sweeping statements without questioning them. If they have nothing to hide then they will respond.

      I am asking for proof and facts and you feel sorry for DOC! Why? If they are speaking from a place of truth surely there should be no hesitation to prove it. They are a Government Department and they need to be able to back up their claims or don’t make them..

      Really keen to see how they accurately conduct a bird count.

        Martin Nicholls 23/01/2018 at 10:01 pm

        Oh, I HAD to reply to the nonsense spouted forth in this forum by the pro-cat and anti-1080 brigade. DoC have a wealth of facts and scientific evidence to back up their findings that introduced mammalian carnivores, including cats, continue to have tragic consequences for our wildlife, but, you, Diane, and Martin Broadbent in particular, will never listen to what they have to say. You have a view that cannot be swayed, so this response is aimed at those still sitting on the fence and who might come to join a chorus of NZ wildlife lovers and supporters who will simply turn you off and treat you with the contempt you deserve. DoC staff, including Graeme Elliot, Craig Gillies, other field researchers like Sarah Cross (Marlborough falcon project), the late Don Merton, highly respected researchers and mustelid experts like Dr Caroline King have, at various times each found themselves acutely depressed, cynical or pessimistic at the outcome for our indigenous species from mammalian predators – due mainly to ineptitude and slowness of government actions, loud voices of ignorance operating unfettered in a democracy, and the slowness of our culture to accept where we are living and what our indigenous biodiversity faces (plants as well as animals). Sarah Cross had been undertaking a long-term research project on wild Eastern falcons in Marlborough in hill country above the vineyards and had not only suspected a serious decline in numbers and breeding ability due to feral cats, but actually obtained CCTV footage proof of the predation of falcon chicks actually taking place. This was shown in a Country Calendar episode. Then there is Massey University vet, Brett Gartrell who is not only well aware of the relationship of cats to the serious wildlife decline that is taking place, but he is concerned that few people (including the SPCA) are prepared to listen to him. What depresses them the most is having to cope with the ignorant attitudes from members of the public (like some in this forum) in the face of incontrovertible evidence they have found of what these mammals can do. Gloom and frustration can engulf them. How do we get people to appreciate what is under their noses and, instead, embrace, foster and protect those species that truly belong to these lands? The person who compared the present madness with the Acclimatisation Society (I would add farming lobby) introductions in the 19th and early 20th Centuries is very apt. The reality is that we don’t have much time to change our attitudes before we lose more and more species forever. It was cats that so nearly wiped out Rakiura kakapo and, if it weren’t for Don Merton and others, they would have succeeded. Had cats succeeded kakapo would now be truly extinct. As for 1080 not improving the outcome for our native birds, again I refer to the passionate response to 1080 deniers from Graeme Elliot. In the Eglinton Valley, mohoua (or yellowhead) had been in steep decline and this population was heading the same way as the ones in Marlborough and Nelson – extinct. The primary reason? Ship rat and mouse irruptions after a beech and rimu mast followed by an explosion in the population of stoats that prey on them. When winter arrived and the rodent numbers crashed stoats had no choice but to switch to birds. Being hole nesters, mohoua was particularly vulnerable to the attention of stoats and were steadily wiped out. Orange-fronted kakariki is facing a similarly disastrous fate. Indeed, mohoua as a whole was heading for total extinction until DoC intervened with very clever and pulsed 1080 applications. It has been 1080 (applied in places inaccessible to trappers) that saved the Eglinton Valley population from extinction and allowed it to slowly recover. Everywhere else where 1080 has been used has seen a rapid increase in native bird populations after a slight initial drop (apart from the notorious cock-up in the Pureora Forest Park in the early 90s when most of the robin and tomtit in the area treated were killed – indeed, this disaster was actually a blessing because we since learned how to best and safely apply 1080). So stop the clap-trap denigrating 1080 now and start to damn well listen!!! New Zealand is NOT like North America and Europe. Its ecology is utterly different and our native animals have not co-evolved with mammalian predators. Nor is it like Australia, in many ways at all. Their brush-tailed possums are in balance there and they are protected, in some places even struggling in the face of changes to their environment wrought by humans. Furthermore, Australia does not have the kinds of very vulnerable, palatable plants that are indigenous to New Zealand. You lot make me depressed!!

        Diane O'Connor 24/01/2018 at 8:40 am

        MN, It obvious where you stand but what surprizes me is that you keep saying there is all this research yet DOC have not provided academic independent research to prove their sweeping claims. I want to see the actual research and review it. There may be an urgency but surely we need the real facts and more balance as a starting point.


    Please stop this crazy love cats hate cats stuff it is a waste of time . If you really see yourself as a Kiwi citizen and want to help our endangered remaining native wildlife check out the science that looks at what we have to do to achieve that ………….. watch this link now.

      Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 10:04 pm

      Get serious, that’s propaganda for sycophants.

      Diane O'Connor 19/01/2018 at 11:24 pm

      DOC What independent academic research can you provide to prove that poisoning our environment with 1080 has a positive effect on our environment and our waterways.


        Just to chime in here, DOC has to have independent reviews of its reports and it’s research methods and results. I’s opinion based blog posts or their magazine is often very passionate and often biased, BUT their published findings and research has to be run alongside an independent company and team of experts. They are after all a government run organization and have to follow the same practice as other areas of government. So any academic research and reports they publish have either been conducted by or reviewed by an independent company, this is standard practice.

      Diane O'Connor 19/01/2018 at 11:55 pm

      Doc In this article posted by Mark Fort
      You state “The stats showed no evidence of reduced bird numbers in the 4-weeks after the aerial 1080 operation. The mohua counts before the aerial 1080 operation suggested a decline in mohua numbers from the year before. By contrast, the count after the aerial 1080 operation was the highest since counts began in 2007.”
      What process do you use to accurately count the birds?
      What stats are you referring that show no evidence of bird decline and how are they captured?


    You people must all have very timid cats. My cats (I have had three) but one in particular was a great hunter of birds even during daylight. I have seen her jump in the air and catch a low flying bird that was eating bread of the neighbours lawn.
    I had lost count of the dead things she brought in, mostly birds .
    It is my belief that cats do heaps of damage to the native wild life. I have experienced it first hand.

      Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 12:36 pm

      This is from the UK but it’s applicable here too:
      No scientific evidence

      Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.

      We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.

      It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.

      Those bird species which have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on heathland.

    susan mottram 08/01/2018 at 2:39 pm

    You should remove cats from this, and the forest and bird link. The studies are not valid. This link is though, some might be interested in the latest Landcare Research study, about what is really wrong with our forests, seems its disease not possums. Ever felt like you have been had? I do.

    Also something from overseas: Published in the Guardian July 2017
    “In the 1950’s the Forest Service found some commercial pine forest damaged by possum. To support a growing conservation industry of aerially poisoning vast tracts of land, possum became a new scapegoat along with deer and rabbits. Further odium was heaped on possum by falsely claiming on the basis of staged photo events, they were a predator. The science that is supposed to support this also reveals its flaw. See Sweetapple, Fraser, & Knightbridge. Page 19, the Abstract claims: “Native forest bird abundance also declined with increasing length of possum occupation.” In the body of the text at page 29, we find: “these data provide weak support for our a priori hypothesis that native bird numbers would decrease with increasing length of possum occupation.”
    If we then look at bird counts, and take out the highly mobile flocking species such as tui, bell bird and yellow crowned parakeet, bird numbers held or increased with the longer presence of possum. Contrary to NZ propaganda, possum do not have an “unwavering appetite for birds’ eggs.” – Bill Benfield, July, 2017″ From the Guardian July 2017


      Hi Susan, please see the articles linked in the response below with regards to cats.

      Although not discussed in this blog post (apart from as an example of the species a Goodnature trap targets), possums pose a serious threat to our native birds and invertebrates. They compete for food with birds, depleting vegetation which results in hungry birds who have lower breeding rates as a result. Possums will also eat our native invertebrates. For example, a single possum can eat more than 60 Powelliphanta (our endangered giant carnivorous snails) per night.

      For more information on the impact of possums on our native species, including a list of scientific publications as references, see this page on Pest Detective:

        Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 5:55 pm

        Is this respone for me? If so refer to No 3 don’t need any traps in my back yard, my cat catches everything.We still encourage home owners to trap in their backyards as well. Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds.

        susan mottram 08/01/2018 at 8:00 pm

        Nice Try but I am not buying. You demonised the possum, (presumably (well for a fact for forestry or was for that farmers _ TB and all). Have you seen a possum being beaten to death because it is a possum? I have a video if you would like to see what we are capable of. Do you really think our countrymen can be trusted not to take this to the extreme? I think we are on very dangerous ground. Can I ask about the Weka? You know the ones clubbed to death by Doc, in the name of conservation? When you have a clean agenda then maybe I will take you seriously. Any way where was the reponse to animals not killed in traps only injured. How is a layperson supposed to cope with an injured animal or orphaned offspring. Bucket of water?

        Diane O'Connor 09/01/2018 at 10:51 am

        You have still not provided research to support your public claim ” Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds’ The page you referred Susan to does not support that statement. It was amusing to see feral cats, who are in the bush ate lobster. Please provide proof or retract it. You are not helping the birds if you don’t have acurrate facts.

        Martin Broadbent 09/01/2018 at 5:00 pm

        You don’t answer people’s questions very well do you. So are you completely dismissing Susan or are you unable to answer the questions?
        Every time I walk around built up areas I hear more bird song than I ever do than when I visit one of your hiking areas. You would of thought the great numbers of cats would of decimated the bird numbers but they haven’t and don’t tell me all the owners keep them in at night because they don’t. It only seems to be low bird numbers where your disgusting poison is so it’s very obvious you are killing our native birds yourselves. You have a responsibility to keep domestic cats protected from vigilantes because of your insistence of putting them on your precious Predator Free 2050 list. It is only right to withdraw cats from the list and to stop using 1080. Visitors to this country have said recently that this practice of using 1080is Neandrathel, what do you say to this?


        DOC the website you are quoting Pest Detective is run by the National Pest Control Agencies (NPCA) – so of course they will be putting up false information to kill animals it benefits them. So where is your real research DOC

      Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 7:17 pm

      Totally agree Susan.


        Hi Diane,
        We recommend that cats are kept inside at night as this is when their hunting instinct is strongest (as their ancestors were nocturnal animals), and when birds are sitting on their nests (and thus most vulnerable).
        Please see PETA’s website (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for more information about why it is best for cats to be kept indoors:

        Diane O'Connor 11/01/2018 at 10:06 am

        The following response is not relevant to your statement which is not accurate “Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds” The following has some very good reasons as to why a cat should be kept in but does not confirm your statement. You are a Govt department and need to ensure you can back up your claims. “We recommend that cats are kept inside at night as this is when their hunting instinct is strongest (as their ancestors were nocturnal animals), and when birds are sitting on their nests (and thus most vulnerable). Please see PETA’s website (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for more information about why it is best for cats to be kept indoors:” Please provide research to back up your statement simply saying it is so does not make it accurate” Prove it or retract it.

        Martin Broadbent 11/01/2018 at 10:16 am

        It’s definitely time they retracted their statement. Too many cats are going missing and badly injured due to this victimisation and it needs stopping before more innocent lives of cats are taken. There seems to be a core hatred at the DoC about cats and personal hostility has no place in a government organisation.

        Diane O'Connor 12/01/2018 at 2:27 pm

        Well said Martin.

        Sophia George 21/01/2018 at 9:10 am

        DOC I cannot believe that you are quoting PETA – have a look at this link – Peta is like DOC kills everything….

    Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 1:24 pm

    Perhaps you should read this DOC. You are demonize cats unfarily and encite curelty to them based on iffy research There needs to more balance and acurate facts brought to this converstaion.

      susan mottram 08/01/2018 at 8:05 pm

      So true Diane, when you use the shonky research to justify the killing of animals. Then on sell it to the masses as legit, the shame of NZ

        Martin Nicholls 19/01/2018 at 4:27 pm

        You claim that DoC and its supporters are extreme in their views regarding cats and other animal species. Many of us, including myself, have seen first hand what cats and other mammals do and the serious damage they do to our wildlife and its depressing to say the least. But I don’t think you are prepared to listen to us because your views and philosophy are pretty fixed. I have seen local extinctions of skinks and geckos because of cats. For those so-called animal lovers so opposed to killing things (and so hate the use of 1080 poison), consider what it means for our native animal species to be constantly persecuted by cats, ferrets, stoats, rats, possums and other introduced mammals, even hedgehogs and pigs, but then, they don’t matter do they? They are only native birds, reptiles and invertebrates after all. They don’t die quietly (especially from cats) and they have never evolved to cope with the relentless persecution to which they are now subjected. Before humans arrived and brought with them their sentimental attachment to introduced species to satisfy their homesickness, New Zealand had been totally isolated from the influence of flightless placental mammals and snakes for around 85my. This was before the time of the K-T mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs and pterosaurs. To those who think their urban neighbourhoods are full of birdsong, despite high numbers of cats, are these birds native species or are they mynas, blackbirds, thrushes and chaffinches, to name a few? All these have evolved to cope with mammalian predation. How many people can tell the difference between native bird song and that from introduced species, or, for that matter, even care? The distinction is important when defining our national identity through the song of our birds. I live in New Plymouth and, apart from kereru, tui, fantail and grey warbler, the presence of native birds is conspicuous by its absence, despite good forest habitat and climate for them to otherwise thrive. People will seldom if ever hear robin, whitehead, kaka or kakariki in urban areas, except maybe in cities like Wellington where intensive predator control has been carried out (including the frequent use of 1080). And, of course, Zealandia has a lot to do with it with its restoring habitat free of all introduced mammals, except maybe mice. I would say high and unnatural population densities of urban cats is a primary reason for such an absence. Unless we are prepared to create many more fenced eco-sanctuaries in urban areas, the demise of native birds in our neighbourhoods will continue and even accelerate, so I am a backer of many more urban traps, focusing on Good Nature A12 and A24 self-setting traps.

        Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 4:37 pm

        I think you have answered your own questions, to be able to trap every predator in New Zealand you would have to set one every square metre. This half hearted attempt to cut Predator numbers only makes it worse in the long run. All predators reproduce with space in mind. Fill the space and reproduction goes down and visa versa. It obvious to the rest of the world that 1080 is something to definitely not use. It’s completely poisoning not only birds but their food chain. It seems you’ve ran out of ideas and now you want to pick on cats. You are not an animal lover yourself, you are suffering from speciesism, it’s a terrible mindset to be in.

        Diane O'Connor 19/01/2018 at 9:31 pm

        As Daniel Patrick Moynihan says “You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts”

    Diane O'Connor 08/01/2018 at 1:17 pm

    Where is your research for this DOC. “Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds”. Agree with Martin about 1080. What about the 1000 Wekas you trapped and bludgeoned to death in 2010. Aren’t they endangered?


      Hi Diane, there have been many studies assessing the negative impact of cat populations on native species. For example, this study: in which scientists conclude that cats have contributed to the extinction of nine of New Zealand’s native species. This University of Otago study found that birds were the most common animal that domestic cats predated on, and that local bird populations couldn’t breed fast enough to keep up with the rate they were being killed by cats:

      With regards to the weka, it is always regrettable to have to kill a pest species, but it is also necessary to protect our most vulnerable animals. On the Chatham Islands weka predate on two critically endangered birds – the taiko, one of the world’s rarest seabirds, and the Chatham Islands oystercatcher. Without protection these birds would likely become extinct.

      Please refer to the response we have provided below and the scientific papers we have linked to with regards to 1080.

        Diane O'Connor 09/01/2018 at 11:32 am

        DOC that research does not support your public statement of “Cats should be kept indoors at night to protect our native birds.” It is not an accurate statement provide proof or retract it. The Dunedin study does not in no way represent all cats in NZ. I think it was 0.026 %” of cats. That is what Bob’s Opinion piece is about. Your other research is about feral cats on islands.

        DOC you bludgeoned the Wekas to death and did not even treat them with any respect or compassion. You may have done that for a reason but they are endangered now and you have to take some responsibility for that, you can’t just blame cats.

        I have heard a rumour that the NZ government/ departments have shares in the company that makes 1080, is that true? We are the biggest user of 1080 in the world and it not used at all in a lot of countries. That says a lot.


    Any advice on how to deal with rabbits? We are too close to roads and people to shoot them and don’t want to use poison because of dogs and children.


      Hi Fiona, get in touch with your local council – they will likely be undertaking regionally-specific rabbit control and will be able to advise you on their best practice for eradication.


    I am interested in getting one or more of the Good Nature traps, but they are quite expensive. If there was some sort of government subsidy then I would be all for putting them up and letting them do their thing

    Martin Broadbent 04/01/2018 at 8:20 am

    What a disgusting blog. Once again you have to demonise cats with speculative guesses when the most destructive method to native numbers is the use of 1080. You also pull in hedgehogs going beyond gardens for food but the damage done is 1080.
    When are you going to admit that 1080 is the route cause for the destruction of native birds and to stop blaming everything else in a blind panic ?


      Nothing speculative on the info on cats and hedgehogs there, only speculation is your factually wrong comment on 1080.


      Hi Martin,

      We regularly monitor native bird populations after 1080 operations and have found that the benefits of using 1080 to protect birds and their nests from predators like rats, stoats and possums strongly outweigh the low number of deaths for these species. You can find our bird monitoring studies here:

      Furthermore, Landcare Research scientists collected dead birds after 15 1080 aerial baiting operations from 2003 to 2014. They concluded: “Our results suggest that modern 1080 baiting operations pose only a negligible threat to native forest bird communities and a small threat to individuals, especially relative to the threats they face from the introduced mammals targeted in pest-control operations… Our finding that most of the native dead birds found did not contain 1080 residue highlights the need by observers to avoid automatically attributing native bird deaths following aerial pest control operations to 1080 poisoning. To the contrary, the evidence here of very few native bird deaths directly attributable to 1080 underscores the suitability of this compound for mammalian pest control in New Zealand’s forests.” You can access the study here:

      With regards to cats, Forest and Bird have produced this informative fact sheet detailing the damage cats can do to our native species:

      You can also find out more about the impact hedgehogs have on our native species here:

        Martin Broadbent 19/01/2018 at 5:03 pm

        No scientific evidence

        Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide. This may be surprising, but many millions of birds die naturally every year, mainly through starvation, disease or other forms of predation. There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds.

        We also know that of the millions of baby birds hatched each year, most will die before they reach breeding age. This is also quite natural, and each pair needs only to rear two young that survive to breeding age to replace themselves and maintain the population.

        It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations. If their predation was additional to these other causes of mortality, this might have a serious impact on bird populations.

        Those bird species which have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines. Research shows that these declines are usually caused by habitat change or loss, particularly on farmland



        And have you done research as to what the human species does to the environment

        Martin Nicholls 22/01/2018 at 12:23 am

        This is my understanding, too. 1080 has had a net positive benefit for forest birds, but, although I support the use of 1080, the question remains regarding intelligent and curious birds like weka and kea that seem to be attracted to unusual things in their environment, like unnaturally blue-green 1080 pellets. Regarding the other anti-1080 comments, especially the gentleman who commented on the large numbers of birds present in Hamilton, despite no poisons, traps and lots of cats. He did not say whether they were native birds or introduced species. I can pretty well speculate what they would be. I’m not even going to repeat myself here because anything I or DoC says would be falling on deaf ears. Until more of us really care about our native birds, other indigenous fauna and the plant communities that support them, nothing is going to change. It is no use quoting UK research as circumstances for wildlife there do not even remotely compare with those facing New Zealand, but the human species has (post-1830s) largely come from the UK and we have brought with us all the mammalian and avian hangers-on to ease our homesickness. Some are accidental (like rats and mice); others have been deliberate. We’re only lucky we don’t have foxes because there would have dealt the final death knell to species like weka and kiwi. Culturally, we do not yet see ourselves as an integral and cultural part of Aotearoa in terms of our appreciation of what is truly special and unique about these antipodean and very isolated islands. A true appreciation of what we have would have us recognise that we must make a number of significant personal sacrifices in our daily lives if ever we are to have birds like karearea (falcon), whitehead, rifleman, robin, kaka and kakariki returned to places much closer to where most of us live – our towns and cities. Compared with rural and remote places where many of these birds are still found, the one common denominator regarding the general absence of these birds (and many lizards and invertebrates) from our urban areas is the unnaturally high population densities of domestic cats (far higher than would be normal for an apex carnivore having to fend for itself without support its owner), but their hunting instincts remain undiminished. In my own area, these cats are free to roam, night and day, and some have daily ranges of several kilometres. Most of these are unneutered males. Apart from occasional visits by karearea (mostly young birds) none of the other birds specifically mentioned above are present in the New Plymouth urban area. On the other hand, tui are quite common and are belligerent enough to see off mynas. Kereru is seasonally abundant. Grey warbler and fantail are also present at certain times, but bellbird is exceedingly rare. To some extent, the more common birds have adapted to human-modified habitat better than many of our forest birds and have been able to cope with levels of predation in ways the other species cannot, although even tui and kereru are nowhere as abundant as they once were and are generally in slow decline. I for one love New Zealand’s own birds and enjoy hearing them when I go into the back country. While I defend the rights of people to hold contrary views to mine in matters of predator control, I do not appreciate that they would rather trample over my desire to have native bird song in or near my own garden than to curb their own passion for pets and other animals that prey on these birds and their habitats to oblivion.

        Martin Broadbent 22/01/2018 at 8:06 am

        MN you really are making it up as you go along. Considering the low population in New Zealand how can there be an unnaturally high population of DOMESTIC cats in an area?
        Do these owners have 10 or more cats each?
        Your comments almost certainly attack those who care about ALL animals and birds lives as weak and sickly and your own personal desires to eradicate every breathing creature other than natives is disturbing to say the least.
        It is very easy to dismiss the observations by the information I left from the UK although I think if you were to consider it longer and realise what it actually stated about DOMESTIC cats that you couldn’t ignore it’s findings and apply it to New Zealand. I am concerned about your conspiracies towards cats and the dangers you are bringing to them.
        There is nobody here commenting to this blog that doesn’t want the best for our Native birds but some of us are not selfish enough to have a personal vendetta against non Native sentient beings.

        Diane O'Connor 22/01/2018 at 8:25 am

        Martin Nicholls You are assuming that I don’t care about native birds because I am asking for facts and proof. You are wrong. feed the birds,( native and non native) and ducks every day at my house. I also care for the eels in our creek in fact our whole neighbourhood protects them. I live in a big city. The problem is that a lot of inaccurate statements are being made that are brainwashing people into thinking that you either like cats or birds and that is not right. I like both. This whole conversation needs more balance and honesty. We need the facts not someone’s bias opinion.


      Constantly spamming any blog to do with conservation to promote your anti-1080 agenda, very sad.

      Ever been to an area that’s had 1080 use? Alive with bird life. Bet you’re a hunter, as long as you can shoot pigs and deer, the never ending march towards more of our endemic extinctions don’t matter.

      I was anti-1080 and an avid hunter until I saw first hand the positive effect of 1080 use has had. Years and years of tramping and shooting in the Tararuas without seeing a single bird made me realise something has to be done before our birdlife is gone forever. Our forests are silent now and on a long slow march to becoming scrub. If that means 1080, I for one am very happy to give up shooting.

      1080 may have it’s ugly side, but to not use 1080 is a more ugly option, 1080 IS the lesser of 2 evils. Until there is a better way for vast and remote areas, 1080 is better than the never ending destruction of our native birds and bush.

      Take a trip to Kapiti Island, Maungatautari or other such areas. You will realise the use of 1080 has been a god send. Good science supports this also.
      However, science or first hand experience means nothing to people who have their own self serving agendas.

        Martin Broadbent 09/01/2018 at 5:09 pm

        Yes I’ve been to many areas where poison is used and I’m sorry to say bird numbers are awfully non existent. I walk around Hamilton and hear so much bird song and it’s great. No poison posters, no visible traps, lots of cats and plenty of native birds. No I’m not a hunter and I am 100% Vegan. 1080 must stop and thinking you know everything turned out to be untrue. Too many 1080 sycophants.


      Martin, I have followed the vast majority of your posts. You are very passionate and will pull apart anything DOC as done and ask for more evidence.

      Conservation is not black and white, each area has a wide variety of factors contributing to a decline in native species; habitat loss, invasive weeds, water quality, land modifications, already small populations not breeding successfully, invasive species.
      Each is being actively monitored and mitigated as effectively as possible.

      The short is, DOC has an enormous range of work in conservation but also in managing all our national parks and nature reserves, that includes all the great walks. Their entire yearly budget is what ASB bank earns in a month to do all this. Do you seriously believe that they have the resources to maintain a practice of pest control if it had no evidence of effectiveness or efficiency backing it?
      Has it crossed your mind that some of the new technologies being developed and tested have either not been as effective or affordable? Do you think that if a more cost-effective and impactful technique that would be better than 1080 had crossed their desk (especially considering the controversy of it) that they would have passed on it? It is not flawless but there is so much research and private companies that are actively trying to find a better one to put forward, it is not like nothing is being done. 1080 is not a permanent solution but in many cases, it has been used to drop a pest population to allow a recovery time for flora and fauna while the next stage of pest control can be put in place.

      So please provide evidence yourself that 1080 is the root cause of the destruction of our native birds, because for all my time and experience working in a range of conservation projects the major cause of environmental damage has NEVER been 1080, and it has never been one thing causing issues but rather it is usually several. I’d love to hear an example that has been put forward by a reputable science-based source that suggests that 1080 is the root of an issue. And i say science-based because these are people that have dedicated their lives to this field of study, and do not get paid well to do so, but do it because they care and they have the background knowledge to unbiasedly conduct and present fact, not opinion.