A WAR is going on in New Zealand, said Morgan Foundation general manager Geoff Simmons in a presentation at a conservation forum in Gisborne last week.
That war is waged against predators that are decimating New Zealand's native bird population.
Possums breed 20 to 30 times faster than native birds. They are adapted to hunt in ways our native birds cannot deal with.
"These guys can see in the dark. They attack continuously over hours and hours. They can kill native birds many times their own size including albatross and kea.
"When people say 1080 is cruel, this is my response.
"If you see how our native birds die, it is truly horrific."
The eradication of predators is desirable for New Zealand because it would improve biodiversity and would mean greater numbers of birds and more bird species would come back.
Mr Simmons choked back his tears as he said the kiwi was at risk.
"I get emotional about this stuff.
Every 12 years, more kiwi die than are born. In two to three years, our native icon might not exist.
"With a 20 percent decline in kiwi every 12 years we have a war on our hands. The question is *how do we fight it?"1 The Morgan Foundation's man-onthe-moon goal is to achieve a predatorfree New Zealand by 2040, said Mr Simmons. He cited the Wellington-based Halo project whose aim is encourage the public to make their backyards safe havens for native wildlife.
The Morgan Foundation works with DoC and other organisations to provide "Halo households" with cheap, safe predator traps.
An infographic on the Halo project website www.halo.org.nz shows a range of traps that people can safely install in their own backyards.
Mr Simmons said anyone can do this and that it soon becomes as normal as putting out the recycling bin once a week.
"People say 'what do we do with the bodies?' Get some rubber gloves and get into it. The inspiring thing is kids are into this stuff. Boys, girls it doesn't matter. They are open to it.
"We need everyone trapping in their backyards. We need every kid coming home with a trap. We need every kid talking about killing stuff.
"Conservation is no longer the preserve of tree huggers. It is now mainstream."