Forest and Bird is calling on the Minister of Conservation to ban the keeping of ferrets as pets in New Zealand.
Forest and Bird’s Biosecurity Awareness Officer, Karli Thomas, said that DOC had released a public consultation document
“what can we do about ferrets?” in 1999, and received resounding support for a complete ban on ferrets as pets.
“Conservationists, farmers, regional councils and the general public were united in their concern over the environmental
and economic damage escaped pet ferrets can cause.” Ms Thomas said.
“Over one thousand submissions were received on the discussion document. About 77% percent of all submissions received
from individuals requested a total ban on the keeping of ferrets by anyone in New Zealand, a view supported by Forest
Ms Thomas said “a decision from the Minister is needed urgently to support regional councils seeking to ban pet
ferrets”. Many Regional Pest Management Strategies are currently up for review.
A ban on keeping ferrets is necessary because of their impacts on wildlife, and transmission of disease to humans and
livestock. “Ferrets are vicious predators of ground-dwelling native bird species including kiwi, weka, dotterels and
penguins. They can also transmit Tuberculosis to cattle and spread the human influenza virus”
Unlike stoats and weasels, ferrets are capable of killing adult kiwi. “The survival of kiwi on the mainland is in grave
doubt. Let’s chose the kiwi over the ferret” Ms Thomas said.
Forest and Bird recommended a ban on the keeping of ferrets be introduced immediately, but with a sunset clause allowing
owners of existing pet ferrets to retain them for up to five years provided they are neutered.
What can we do about Ferrets?
Forest and Bird summary of key findings from submissions on the Public Discussion Document.
The Public Discussion Document “what can we do about ferrets?” was produced by the Department of Conservation, outlining
options for tightening the control of ferrets kept as pets or farmed. Submissions closed on December 31 1999.
The results of the analysis of submissions showed:
- Overwhelming support for a complete ban on keeping ferrets by anyone, anywhere in New Zealand. (77% of submissions
from individual respondents)
- Very high rate of response (over 1,000 submissions received) - particularly considering the closing date being the
last day of the millennium!
- Conservationists, farmers, rural and environmental organisations, recreational hunters and regional councils were
united in their support for a ban on keeping ferrets.
- Strong public feeling on the issue of ferrets - 92% of submissions being from individuals.
- A high level of public awareness about the threat to wildlife and biodiversity. 36% of individuals commented on this.
- Awareness of the role of ferrets in transmitting tuberculosis (Tb) to cattle. 80 individuals, as well as submitters
from the rural sector commented on this.
- A substantial submission (46 pages) was received from Forest and Bird Head Office. This considered a number of options
for ferret control, and concluded that the status quo was not an option. Forest and Bird proposed a nationwide ban on
keeping ferrets, including a “sunset clause’ of five years for existing pet ferrets.
“The strongest course of action would be to prohibit the keeping of ferrets by anyone throughout New Zealand”
This was the only comment made on a complete ban (the rest of the document focused on tightening controls). Despite the
lack of detail on this option, the vast majority of respondents supported a complete ban.