Cambridge Edition

Killing one creature for the sake of another

- ERIN REILLY

OPINION:

The idea of killing animals makes me feel funny. It’s uncomforta­ble. It’s sad. Honestly, it’s a bit gross.

But when I started working for Save the Kiwi two years ago, I realised that some animals have to die for the sake of others, and as uncomforta­ble as it might make you feel, I think it’s something that we have to talk about more.

Ninety-five per cent of kiwi chicks that hatch in areas where there isn’t any predator control will be killed by predators before they reach adulthood. No, that isn’t a typo. Almost all kiwi chicks that hatch in places where humans aren’t protecting them from the jaws and claws of nasties ... will die.

It’s not just kiwi that are facing certain death at the mouths of introduced species. Many other native birds, bats, skinks, and frogs can’t compete against hungry stoats, ferrets, possums, rats, and other introduced species. If we all sat back and did nothing, our adopted national icon and other precious creatures only found here in Aotearoa would literally disappear before our very eyes.

Predator control – and yes, that means killing animals to prevent other creatures from dying – is one significan­t way we can make a difference. Thanks to hundreds of hardworkin­g trapping projects all around New Zealand, introduced pests are slowly but surely being removed from the ngāhere. This in turn creates safer habitat for native species and will allow them to one day thrive again.

This doesn’t mean that trappers are blood-thirsty hunters who just like the thrill of the catch, though. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last few years, it’s that people who work in predator control are committed to doing it ethically and respectful­ly.

I’ve met one man who catches pests in live traps then performs a karakia over them before killing them.

These people understand that these creatures are doing what they were designed to do in order to live. But these people also understand that we need to choose between ‘‘all creatures’’ and ‘‘some creatures’’, and our most precious, vulnerable native species must be the priority.

It’s still an uncomforta­ble conversati­on, but it’s one that all communitie­s large and small need to start.

If the birdsong in your area is much quieter than it used to be when you were a kid, you need predator control. If you live near bush where native birds live, you need predator control. Even if you live in an urban area, you need predator control.

The way I see it, all animals are equal ... but some are more important to Aotearoa than others. Let’s do what we can to protect our precious native species while respecting all other creatures.

This week is Save the Kiwi Week. Text KIWI to 3663 to make a $3 donation. Visit savethekiw­i. nz/savethekiw­iweek to find out more. To find out how you can get involved in predator control in your area, visit predatorfr­eenz.org.

 ?? KYLIE DAY/SAVE THE KIWI TRUST ?? Ninety-five per cent of kiwi chicks that hatch in areas where there isn’t any predator control will be killed by predators before they reach adulthood, says Erin Reilly. (File photo)
KYLIE DAY/SAVE THE KIWI TRUST Ninety-five per cent of kiwi chicks that hatch in areas where there isn’t any predator control will be killed by predators before they reach adulthood, says Erin Reilly. (File photo)

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