Date of this Version
New Zealand could be regarded as an acclimatization laboratory, i.e., the consequence of a wide range of animal introductions in the period 1840-1907. Species introduced ranged from camels to hedge-hogs, ostriches to sky larks. Fortunately many failed to survive. The majority of these liberations were made by Acclimatization Societies or private individuals, often with Government approval and protection. The most damaging species were several species of deer, rabbits, Australian opossums, goats, pigs, tahr, wallabies, and chamois. The establishment, natural dispersion and colonization of unoccupied habitat by these animals was successful and surpassed all expectations. Pastoral land development in the early days usually consisted of firing large tracts of indigenous forest and native grassland and this practice assisted the dispersion of some animals, particularly the rabbit. The impact of these animals was to upset the natural stability of habitat and damage soil and water values. As a result of these liberations a multiplicity of animal control problems have occurred. Organizations were constituted by Government with the responsibility of conducting control. They have in recent years made dramatic progress in reducing some animal populations such as rabbits to tolerable levels. This has only been achieved by positive policy changes over the years, plus the development and utilization of more effective control techniques, especially in the field of poisoning.