For centuries New Zealand flightless birds and slow-moving reptiles lived without fear of native predators. This golden era ended when the British showed up on rat-infested ships. Since then, rats have become the key player in theÂ destruction of native forestryÂ and theÂ extinction of nine native speciesÂ of birds. Clearly the rats need to go, but how do you motivate New Zealanders into becoming active rat hunters?
Beer TrapÂ is a program that lets time-rich and beer-poor university students swap dead rats for free brews. Genius, right? We spoke to Jonathan Musther, one of the masterminds of the campaign, about the intricacies of fixing the environment with young Kiwis and alcohol.
VICE: So first of all, how do I get a free beer?
Jonathan Musther:Â It’s pretty simple, you bring a dead rat to Victoria University of Wellingtonâ€™s Science Society, we supply the traps, and we exchange it for a voucher which you can use to claim a drink at The Hunter Lounge (the uni bar).
Other than beers, why are we killing rats?
Itâ€™s a twofold problem. For one they kill a lot of our natives. They eat skinks and lizards and they also eat insects like the Weta. Plus birdsâ€™ eggsâ€”even tree-nesting birds like the Tuiâ€™s because rats can climb trees quite happily.
Interesting to know that the moneyÂ we use to fund ourÂ universities are going to provide beer for pied piper type students. Read more »