By Dave Williams
Entrepreneur and environmental campaigner Gareth Morgan has an ambitious plan to make Stewart Island pest-free and is challenging locals to get on board.
The Morgan Foundation has been working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) on New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands and the Million Dollar Mouse project.
Mr Morgan is in Invercargill this week and will return to Stewart Island in October to talk to locals “to see if they are up for it”.
However, if the community isn’t interested he said he would turn his energies to other projects.
“If I go to Stewart Island and get told to piss off, I will.”
It might cost up to $35 million to make Stewart Island pest-free.
But it was a measure of a community’s commitment if they were “prepared to put some skin into the game”.
It was part of Sir Paul Callaghan’s goal of a predator-free New Zealand, he said.
“We are not going to be able to do New Zealand if communities don’t stand up.”
He believes it was possible to eradicate stoats, mice, rats and cats from somewhere as big as Stewart Island.
“DOC are really good at killing things. They can go to an island and wipe things out and make it safe for the native flora and fauna.”
However, when humans were involved in the equation it became “like herding cats”.
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