Recently New Zealanders have been
spending their free time doing something unusual. They’re trapping rats. It’s a
common pastime. Rats are an invasive predator in New Zealand. So the country has
come up with an ambitious plan to kill them. All of them. But could this ever
possibly work? The rats that were introduced to New Zealand are just the
rats that we’re all familiar with they have extraordinary senses of smell of
touch. They are incredibly resourceful. which is partly why they’re a problem. Rats were first introduced into the country in the 13th century when they
hitched rides on ships. Before then, the only mammals on the island were tiny
finger-sized bats. Rats are prolific. They breed easily. They get everywhere. They’re very hard to get rid of once they’re in a place. Invasive predators like rats are
a nuisance everywhere But in New Zealand they’re causing an ecological disaster Islands worldwide tend to be hotbeds of
evolution because the animals and plants that find themselves in islands are
separated off from relatives on the mainland and so evolve in their own
weird and wonderful ways. The bird life in New Zealand became incredibly diverse
they are also because of their history exquisitely vulnerable. They are many of
them flightless which means it’s very hard for them to escape or to run away.
Remember these birds evolved without mammalian predators many of them don’t
exist anywhere else in the world. now they’re easy prey for hungry rodents.
They have wiped out around a quarter of New Zealand’s native bird species. The
worry is that if the rat problem is not addressed many more of these unique
species are going to go extinct. With the fate of rare birds like the Kiwi and the
kakapo at stake New Zealand is enacting a radical new plan called “Predator Free
2050.” We want to create a new New Zealand a
safe predator-free sanctuary for our native birds and animals. Predator Free 2050 is New Zealand’s ambitious goal to rid the entire country of introduced
mammalian predators: rats, ferrets, and possums. Currently, New Zealand’s predator-free approach consists of using
pesticides and encouraging citizen trapping but they have a lot of ground
to cover. The largest success story ever for rat eradication has been Macquarie
Island in Australia which is 50 square miles. Now New Zealand is 2,000 times that size. It’s huge. The idea of doing that across an entire country still just
seems like such a monumental task you need to be dropping poisons about the
place, you need to be scouring acres of land looking for signs of rats. In
addition to these grassroots measures they’re considering a revolutionary new
technique. A technique for editing DNA. CRISPR combines with a technology called
gene drives. Gene drives are still in the experimental stage. In simple terms, the
technology implants a specific gene into one generation and ensures its rapid
spread. You could imagine for example spreading a gene through populations of
mosquitoes to make them sterile or in this case through populations of rats to
make them infertile. If this strategy succeeds it could be applied in other
ecosystems and help endangered species rebound around the world but it’s
incredibly risky. The worry is that gene drives are so good at spreading genes across wild populations that it would then be very easy for it to spread
beyond New Zealand’s borders to other parts of the world. What happens
if you wipeout rats from everywhere in the world? Entire food webs might
collapse. But a New Zealand without rats could allow its unique birds to thrive
again. You get to hear birdsong in places that are currently silent. Species that
were on the brink of extinction come back. Near New Zealand’s capital city
there’s 500 acres that are already cause for hope.
It’s called Zealandia. It’s this huge Nature Reserve built this incredible
predator proof fence around and they’ve introduced a ton of birds and you can
walk around and you hear the sounds of all these birds. It gives you a very audible
sense of how much the country is lost and how much it stands to gain. While strides and conservation have been made, there’s more work to be done before CRISPR comes into play. The plan will need political support and a lot of
funding to develop technology to do what’s never been done before.
Until then, rat trapping will remain a popular pastime. Hi everyone, I’m Ed Yong. I work at the Atlantic where I write about science and nature. Thanks for looking at our video, we hope you enjoyed it. Please don’t forget to subscribe to
our YouTube channel and check back often for more videos in the future

The Rat Apocalypse in New Zealand
Tagged on:                                                                                                                                                         

100 thoughts on “The Rat Apocalypse in New Zealand

  • September 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm
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    Watch the previous episode of the Idea File: Why Being Skinny Used to Be Easier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObAWB5VGbBo

    Reply
  • September 5, 2019 at 7:37 pm
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    where's the weird doctor kid gone? get him back here

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  • September 5, 2019 at 7:39 pm
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    Wait, it’s not west Baltimore?

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  • September 5, 2019 at 8:27 pm
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    Did she say that rats arrived in the thirteenth century? (0.46) that means the rats came with the Maori’s.

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  • September 5, 2019 at 8:34 pm
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    Good luck. Rats are intelligent.

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  • September 5, 2019 at 8:58 pm
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    Get rid of all the rats, bears, crocodiles, tigers, and sharks

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  • September 5, 2019 at 9:35 pm
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    POSSUMS THO

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  • September 5, 2019 at 9:38 pm
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    I used to live just round the corner from Zealandia about 5 months ago. Honestly, fat kereru? My favs. Tui calls in the morning? Ruru at night? incredible. Bring on rodent free NZ

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  • September 5, 2019 at 9:54 pm
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    We are rapidly falling into the depths of a living hell. This plan makes zero sense. Completely annihilating a species that is thriving for the sake of FLIGHTLESS FUCKING BIRDS seems backwards. Celebrate the rat. Do we really need more Kiwis? If I was going to choose a thing to get rid of it would be the thing that lost the gift of flight. If you manage to fuck that up genetically/evolutionarily it might just be time to go. Humans are an amazing mistake. Our perceptions are so easily skewed and flawed. I hope we are next on the list for removal.

    Reply
  • September 5, 2019 at 10:42 pm
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    how do you spread infertility through sex? you need to be fertile to spread your genes. this seems like a huge oxymoron/oversight.

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  • September 5, 2019 at 10:57 pm
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    Alberta Canada has been doing it the old-fashioned way for years: with a government-run 'Rat Patrol'. Can't even keep them as pets (legally).

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  • September 5, 2019 at 11:01 pm
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    THERE'S SOMETHING A LOT MORE DANGEROUS INVADING NEW ZEALAND 😳🤔😏

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  • September 5, 2019 at 11:39 pm
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    For those population that eat rats, then it spreads to those humans?

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  • September 5, 2019 at 11:49 pm
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    How about rat condoms 😉

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  • September 5, 2019 at 11:52 pm
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    It won't work. Killing "invasive species" is a pastime for hobby killers sadly.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 1:51 am
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    how does a “gene” for making future rats infertile work ??? The ones with that gene will die out…. MAKES NO SENSE

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  • September 6, 2019 at 2:02 am
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    They should probably get rid of the ferrets and possums first because if they get rid of all the rats then the possum parents won't have anything to eat and they'll start eating in the birds more

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 2:40 am
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    Lmaooo

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  • September 6, 2019 at 2:54 am
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    Alberta province in Canada is rat free. 3x the size of New Zealand. They literally have a rat patrol to exterminate them due to farming. If ever an infestation, quarantined and then they’re decimated. BUT alas, tons of mice. 🐁

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 3:10 am
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    Most kiwis arnt out trapping rats. My cat has caught plenty

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  • September 6, 2019 at 4:16 am
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    I don't think they would ever be able to get rid of rat's completely..

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 5:00 am
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    How would a gene that causes infertility get inherited if the organism can no longer reproduce?

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  • September 6, 2019 at 5:25 am
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    European trash brought rats and criminals

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 6:22 am
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    Solving a case of the European rats and bugs is a nonstop battle in futile.

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  • September 6, 2019 at 7:20 am
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    This video makes me terribly sad. Rats are the sweetest animals on earth. I had 2 pet rats.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 8:30 am
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    So what they replace indigenous animals? They came because they wanted a better life. They are not to blame that they are superior.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 9:14 am
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    3 cheers for The Atlantic

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 11:36 am
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    I don't think the Maoris' ships looked like that somehow.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 1:18 pm
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    New Zealand experiences Vermintide.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 2:25 pm
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    Can you own a cat in NZ?

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  • September 6, 2019 at 2:36 pm
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    Dodo may care.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 2:44 pm
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    So it appears th Atlantic is a pro segregation racist magazine.. who would have thought. Guess thats what happens when you pick up garbage writers others tossed out for racist views. Good luck with that.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 5:04 pm
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    Stop messing with natural selection. Leave the rats alone. If you want to preserve species from extinction, build a sanctuary for them. Don't kill other animals on a massive scale for your whims.

    Reply
  • September 6, 2019 at 9:01 pm
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    Alberta Canada doesn't have rats so … it's possible, I suppose.

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  • September 6, 2019 at 11:25 pm
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    So stupid. I hope the government&island is nuked into oblivion if they end up using crispr. Bound to have a few rats get to other places and doom the ecosystem. Shame and disgusting time to live in darn

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  • September 7, 2019 at 2:14 am
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    Just import some pythons, I'm sure nothing will go wrong.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 2:45 am
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    And here I am in America enjoying my domesticated rats lol.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 3:20 am
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    Why are you killing rats I have one as a pet, this video made me cry 😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😢😢😢😢😢😭😭😭😭😭😭

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 4:25 am
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    But if its made infertile, how do they breed and multiply to pass down the gene? 🤔 One effective way so far is when people coat the pest with a specific poison deadly only for them on their fur and released them back to their colony. From there they pass it to whichever colony member that were grooming the poison coat or got rubbed on it.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 4:25 am
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    Dude I haven't been trapping rats.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 4:38 am
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    Hopefully New Zealand will win the War on Rats after Australia lost the War on Emus..

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  • September 7, 2019 at 4:43 am
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    I'm a new Zealander and I catch about 20 rats a week

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  • September 7, 2019 at 5:02 am
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    The bird life has come back so strong in the reserves that have been cleaned out vermin ..thanks to Doc…and the fantastic work they have done..it’s amazing to hear them all singing and swooping past you as you walk the tracks..I was so surprised..
    I have even seen up close to my amazement..the very rare n shy Kakapo which numbers are only below 300 ..

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 6:43 am
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    It is a bit disappointing that the Video didn't explain the concept of "mainland islands", of which Zealandia is only one. We create a predator proof fence around an area, trying to simulate the success of our offshore predator-free sanctuaries. As the number of these grow, it is possible to join them, and after a while the area actively being trapped plateaus then declines, and the habitat available to the predators greatly reduces.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 9:25 am
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    Rats among other rodents are a culinary delicacy in some parts of the world ……harvest them export them and make a fortune

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  • September 7, 2019 at 10:19 am
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    More socialist insanity. This is just a leaf out of the Maoist 'Four Pests Campaign' playbook. Didn't work there, of course; won't work here either. And just for the record, for the most part, NZers aren't running round the hills executing rats and throwing them in pits, well not yet anyway. But the way things are going it may just be a matter of time. All hail the Dear Leader.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 10:50 am
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    You’ll have to pay 2 bucks a head

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  • September 7, 2019 at 11:43 am
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    Have fun with the rats,

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 12:44 pm
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    The world wide irradiation idea is preposterous. There is always going to be individuals that are not affected by the gene drive, if anything rapid evolution with render the gene inactive. I say New Zealand is the perfect place to try this out.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 5:55 pm
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    Darn rats

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  • September 7, 2019 at 6:27 pm
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    Do y’all not have cats over there?? Edit: lol never mind I watched further and I now see you guys got a bunch of defenseless birds… I see the problem.. maybe rat terriers?? Do they kill birds?? Idk lol

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 7:35 pm
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    Humans have hunted many animals to extinction, make some sort of
    Financial incentive, they’ll be gone by Christmas 😂

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 7:47 pm
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    I dont think they have ever watched futurama, what the hell is going to kill the birds? In futurama there is owls everywhere because they did something similar to this.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 7:57 pm
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    They want to "git rud of the rets by twinty fufty". At least that's what I heard.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 8:59 pm
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    You can't use CRISPR like that!! Rats are sneaky, they stow-away on cargo ships, in airplane holds, you can't stop them from spreading around the world. If you use that technology there, you'll eradicate every rat on Earth. Nobody can predict what damage that will do to ecosystems around the world. You'll end up nuking entire species of predators and cause prey species' populations to explode, in countries on the other side of the planet!

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  • September 7, 2019 at 9:42 pm
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    Rat problem? Ever heard of a creature called a cat?

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  • September 7, 2019 at 10:05 pm
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    Here in NY we have a huge rat problem, except ours talk to the FBI.

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  • September 7, 2019 at 10:19 pm
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    Um 51 seconds and two glaring mistakes in I quit. 'The rat introduced were just rats we know' no initially they were Polynesians rats. 'Rats were introduced in the 13th century from ships' with old footage of late 19th Century European sailing ship??? What? In the 13th century what was sailing around New Zealand waters was a Polynesian ocean going canoe either single or double hulled. So feel free to watch this click bait shit if it gives some entertainment but don't kid yourself you are being educated.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2019 at 11:20 pm
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    Oh yes and working on a zero road toll and that won't happen eather I'm a kiwi so I know this government are pc morons nothing more

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 12:43 am
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    Are you sure this isn't Baltimore?

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 1:48 am
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    Is genocide ok if you're the one doing it?

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 1:54 am
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    Bats weren’t the only mammals. You’re forgetting about seals and sea lions.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 2:23 am
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    poisons and genomes are terrible ideas.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 3:08 am
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    Do New Zealand have some kind of hawk? Or maybe just let your cat run around outside for an hour. Not a great solution but it's something to think about

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  • September 8, 2019 at 4:07 am
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    Goodbye rats.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 6:51 am
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    O no. The plague infecters are invading again

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 7:39 am
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    If they can kill off the Worlds biggest eagle then rats should be no problem

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  • September 8, 2019 at 7:46 am
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    Are they totally nuts to use crispr in the wild? We are still not aware of all the gene transferring mechanism and then you want to throw random genes – that may also be able to sterilize humans – into the wild?
    If this actually transfers we would need to glass the whole island – humans included.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 8:56 am
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    Australia recently decided to kill 3-6 million feral cats, if i was them I woulda captured the cats and shipped them anywhere in the world where there’s a rat infestation… NZ included

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  • September 8, 2019 at 10:19 am
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    This man is amazing

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 10:40 am
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    5 dollars per rat. That will wipe them out.

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  • September 8, 2019 at 10:44 am
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    Yes. We have a liberal problem in America too.

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  • September 8, 2019 at 11:36 am
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    If the genes make them infertile how would they get passed down?

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  • September 8, 2019 at 11:56 am
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    leave those poor rats alone. I'm calling the queen

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  • September 8, 2019 at 11:59 am
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    It's what happens when you ban guns.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 1:45 pm
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    This is like alt right's dreams lmao. Eradicating a species to make place for the natives.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 2:41 pm
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    rats is so cute

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  • September 8, 2019 at 3:04 pm
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    The use of crispr to eliminate rats in New Zealand will be create unintended consequences. …genetic mutations which make the rats stronger? Will any of these inserted genes cross species?

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  • September 8, 2019 at 3:34 pm
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    To save the land we must poison it!

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  • September 8, 2019 at 3:37 pm
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    Nooooo on the gene modification. The fenced area is a better idea.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 4:52 pm
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    i live in the UK. i started killing rats in my garden on the 28/02/2018 to 15/06/2019 and i have killed 77 rats. i am not killing them now and had 5 rats in my garden yesterday. the UK is going to see the plague wipe out the UK again. more needs to be done to wipe the rats out in towns like where i live. i think its depopulation of humans coming soon as no one is doing F all about the rats.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 5:31 pm
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    Well….if your gonna go the dna route…instead of sterilizing them…just insert wings, pretty feathers, beaks, and colorful song genes into the genes of the rats and let them multiply.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 6:24 pm
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    Guess was inevitable. New Britain and Pevuvu have been known to be highly infested with rats since the 1940s.

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  • September 8, 2019 at 6:39 pm
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    Why do there rats look higher end than ours?

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  • September 8, 2019 at 7:19 pm
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    2:33 to get to the point

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  • September 8, 2019 at 7:35 pm
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    They were were thinking of killing and banning cats, because they actively hunt birds.

    Reply
  • September 8, 2019 at 7:48 pm
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    13th century boats and you use european boats? dont erase the maori

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  • September 8, 2019 at 8:19 pm
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    if a zombie outbreak occurs we will know where it started

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  • September 8, 2019 at 10:44 pm
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    They should start mass breeding program of rat hunters

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  • September 8, 2019 at 11:08 pm
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    It should be noted the rats introduced in the 13th Century were Kirore, distinct from the Norwegian rats that came later. And many species of birds were already wiped out before the introduction of Norwegian rats.

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  • September 9, 2019 at 1:09 am
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    I thought this video would be about white supremacists.

    Reply
  • September 9, 2019 at 1:40 am
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    Humans are "introduced mammalian predators". Lets start with them. It's not as if New Zealanders are real people like Australians anyway.

    Reply
  • September 9, 2019 at 1:43 am
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    Folks who don't like snakes take note, this is what happens when the snakes go,

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  • September 9, 2019 at 2:26 am
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    what if they did this to like white people or asians?

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  • September 9, 2019 at 2:30 am
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    The province of Alberta in Canada love to gloat about being rat free. I live here and we are. Perhaps they may have some ideas or info that may help New Zealand make some informed decisions about their rat problem

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  • September 9, 2019 at 2:50 am
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    What about cats?

    Reply
  • September 9, 2019 at 3:28 am
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    Typical. Could Jacinta Dogbreath fix her own backyard before criticizing others'???….. there's a chapter in 12 Rules For Life relating to this, oh wait – that book has been banned in NZ….smh idiot 😒

    Reply
  • September 9, 2019 at 5:50 am
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    So… What they're saying is that cats aren't allowed in New Zeeland

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  • September 9, 2019 at 6:04 am
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    New Zealand is also declaring war on an animal?

    Reply
  • September 9, 2019 at 6:19 am
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    rat poison racumin ad played before this video lol

    Reply

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