Wellingtonians overwhelmingly support a Predator Free Capital

5 July 2017

The vision for Wellington to become the first predator free capital city in the world is one step closer, with 84% of Wellingtonians supportive of ridding the city of rats, stoats, weasels and possums.

Predator Free Wellington is an ambitious project which aims to increase native wildlife by making Wellington City predator free. It aligns with the recently announced Government mission to make the whole of New Zealand predator free by 2050 and is supported by Wellington City Council, the Greater Wellington Regional Council and NEXT Foundation. 

As part of the project’s initial planning phase a survey was undertaken to understand the preferences and attitudes of Wellington residents towards predator eradication. The 2017 Predator Free Wellington Survey found that the majority of residents are generally pro-predator management, and that two out of three residents are willing to be actively involved in the project. 

The survey was undertaken by Wellington City Council, and Predator Free Portfolio Leader, Councillor Andy Foster says the results are encouraging. “Because Predator Free Wellington is such a big project, its success will very much be driven by backyard trappers. It’s great to confirm that the vast majority of residents support the project and that 69% are willing to be actively involved. In some sense, this comes as no surprise as so many Wellingtonians already engage in wonderful hands on environmental restoration work across our city. 

"The benefits of becoming a predator free city will be something that Wellingtonians can be really proud of, and it’s great to have their enthusiasm affirmed though the survey results. We’re grateful to everyone who took the time to have their say in the survey.” 

Initially the predator free focus is on developing a plan to eradicate rats, weasels and stoats from the Miramar Peninsula along with a strategy for extending this throughout Wellington City. The Miramar Peninsula was chosen as the initial area of focus as it has been possum free since 2006 and as a peninsula is more easily defendable from predator reinvasion. 

While work proceeds in Miramar, the project will continue to support predator eradication in reserves and backyards across the city, especially in wildlife hotspots around Zealandia. “Indigenous bird and lizard populations are growing dramatically in these parts of the city so it’s really important that we can allow this to flourish by continuing to control predators", adds Cr. Foster.

Project Director, James Willcocks says “Predator Free Wellington will be supporting and connecting community groups across Wellington who can assist in the vision to become a predator free city. Understanding that we have the support of 84% of Wellingtonians means we’re one step closer to being able to get more people engaged in the project.

 "We’ll work to help address the concerns of the 16% of residents who were less supportive or wanted more detail by providing plenty of information about the benefits of a predator free city when we launch our website. 

"The survey also showed us that supply of traps is one of the biggest issues confronting ongoing involvement of the public, so in partnership with community groups we’re working on ways to sustainably manage the cost and distribution of traps. We’ll start by making traps available to predator free groups through a staged approach from August 2017 onwards, starting on the Miramar Peninsula. 

"The focus on Miramar with the initial eradication proposal provides the opportunity to trial, learn and adapt as we progress. We hope this will inspire other communities across Wellington to get involved as we will eventually roll out support across the whole city.”