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Environment and History

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Environment and History

The Fall and Fall in the Legal Status of Mustelids in New Zealand

Philippa Wells

Environment and History 15 (2009): 343-368. doi: 10.3197/096734009X12474738225593

Three species of the family Mustelidae (stoats, weasels and ferrets) were initially introduced into New Zealand (and granted statutory protection) in an attempt to control a burgeoning rabbit population. From that point, scientific, political and social debate centred on both the advisability and efficacy of the introduction. Although their legal protection and support was partially removed in 1903, they were not declared statutory 'vermin' for another 50 years. The long road taken by these predators to political perdition signals shifts in political and economic power and reveals dissension and changes in policy direction.

KEYWORDS: Environment, history, New Zealand, acclimatisation, predators, rabbits

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