Stopping pets becoming pests

Find out how the National Pest Pet Biosecurity Accord helps stop pets becoming pests.


Pet escapes a major pest source

New Zealand has the highest rate of pet ownership in the world. Pets fulfil an important role in the lives of individuals, households, families and communities. But some pets have the potential to breed in the wild and pose problems for our economy, environment and health.

Globally, pet escapes are a major source of pest species. New Zealand is no different. Several pet species have gone on to form wild populations in New Zealand, including:

The risks of pets going wild

Once a pet species becomes established in the wild it can:

  • spread diseases or parasites to native animals, plants and people
  • cause harm to New Zealand’s agricultural, horticultural, forestry, aquaculture or fishing industries
  • destroy habitats for native wildlife
  • kill or compete with native animals or plants
  • negatively affect the recreational environments that we enjoy.

Managing these risks

New Zealand has a strict regulatory regime to ensure that new high-risk pet species aren’t brought into the country. However, in the past it was easier to bring in new species and about 1,800 pet species are now considered legally present in New Zealand.

MPI has been working with pet industry and biosecurity stakeholders to better understand the biosecurity risks posed by the domestic trade in pets already present in New Zealand, and opportunities to manage these risks. Our analysis suggests that most pet species are unlikely to pose significant risks. But some species that can be legally traded at present appear capable of forming wild populations and causing problems.

As a result, MPI has established a group – the National Pest Pet Biosecurity Accord – to regulate the domestic trade of high-risk pets and to encourage responsible pet ownership. This group is mirrored on the successful National Pest Plant Accord and includes MPI, the Department of Conservation, regional councils, the Pet Industry Association and the New Zealand Companion Animal Council.

Pet species that are currently regulated

As yet, no pet species have been regulated under the Accord. However, there are several species that are currently regulated under the Biosecurity Act 1993, which are known to be kept as pets (see Table 1).

It is important that pet owners and pet traders are aware of these and their obligations under the law. Unwanted organisms provisions under the Biosecurity Act 1993 are aimed at preventing the proliferation of these organisms.

Contact your regional council or unitary authority to check for obligations under regional pest management plans.

The Accord Agreement

The Accord aims to provide a nationally coordinated and consistent approach for managing the trade of high-risk pet species and advocacy for responsible pet ownership.
The Accord agreement, once finalised, will be published on this website.

Focus of the Accord

The Accord will focus on species kept primarily as pets that are not widely established in the wild and don’t currently have a regulatory framework for their management. This means that cats, dogs, domestic livestock and a range of other species are out of scope.

The Accord will also focus specifically on the domestic trade in pets and won’t seek to control pet ownership directly. In other words, the Accord will not require pet owners to give up their pets, but it may control breeding, selling and movement of certain species.

The structures to make the Accord work are in the process of being established. Once this is completed, pet species will be assessed to determine whether regulation is warranted and work to encourage responsible pet ownership will begin.

 Table 1: Unwanted organisms that have been known to be kept as pets or in aquaria

Common name Scientific name Type Notes

Bennett's wallaby

Bennett's wallaby and joey

Macropus rufogriseus Mammal Restricted to Canterbury and parts of Otago. Unwanted organism (UO) classification due to expire 19 Sep 2016

Brush-tailed rock wallaby

Petrogale penicillata Mammal Restricted to Kawau Island. UO classification due to expire 19 Sep 2016

Dama wallaby

Macropus eugenii Mammal Restricted to Kawau Island and the vicinity of Rotorua Lakes.  UO classification due to expire 19 Sep 2016

European alpine newt

Ichthyosaura alpestris Amphibian Currently under an eradication programme

Ferret

Mustela furo Mammal Widespread throughout NZ

Koi carp

Cyprinus carpio Fish Widespread in northern North Island

Mosquito fish

Gambusia affinis Fish Widespread in northern North Island

Parma wallaby

 

Macropus parma Mammal Restricted to Kawau Island. UO classification due to expire 19 Sep 2016

Plague skink (rainbow skink)

 

Lamprophilis delicata Reptile Widespread in northern North Island

Rainbow lorikeet

Trichoglossus haemotodus Bird Not established in the wild. General permission to breed, sell and move

Red-vented bulbul

Pycnonotus cafer Bird Currently under an eradication programme

Rose-ringed parakeet

Psittacula krameri Bird General permission to breed, sell and move.

Swamp wallaby

 

Wallabia bicolor Mammal Restricted to Kawau Island. UO classification due to expire 19 Sep 2016

 

Pests in regional pest management plans known to be kept as pets (not including unwanted organisms)

Common name Scientific name Type Notes/region affected

Bearded dragon

Amphibolurus barbatus Reptile Auckland (rules only apply when an animal is not held in secure containment)

Blue-tongue skink

Tiliqua scincoides and Tiliqua nigrolutea Reptile Auckland region - surveillance pest

Chinchilla

Chinchilla laniger Mammal Southland

Eastern rosella

Platycerus eximius Bird Bay of Plenty, Horizons

Eastern water dragon

Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii Reptile Auckland (rules only apply when an animal is not held in secure containment)

Goldfish

Carassius auratus Fish Wellington

Possums

Trichosurus vulpecula Mammal Most regions

Red-eared slider turtle

Trachemys scripta elegans Reptile Auckland (rules only apply when an animal is not held in secure containment). Wellington and Waikato also have rules

Shingleback lizard

Trachydosaurus rugosus Reptile Auckland (rules only apply when animal is not held in secure containment)

Sulphur-crested cockatoo

Cacatua galerita Bird Horizons, Canterbury and Auckland (rules only apply when an animal is not held in secure containment)

Who to contact

If you have questions about the information on this page, email nppba@mpi.govt.nz.

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