Fearless Schoolkids Catch, Kill 600 Rats

They want to help rid their New Zealand island of the bird-killing predators
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2022 5:16 PM CST

A grinning girl holding the tail of a sizable dangling rat: It's photo evidence of an unusual competition at a New Zealand school, where students hunted down and took out rats in a 100-day effort to help safeguard the local bird population. The local Environment Trust gave traps made from recycled political billboards that held wooden snap traps inside to 40 students at Halfmoon Bay School on Rakiura/Stewart Island. They were tasked with trapping and killing as many as they could—and they managed to off 600 rodents. The Guardian has this unforgettable description: "The children dump out bucketloads of rats on the school lawn, arrange them according to size, and dangle particularly impressive specimens by the tails for measuring."

Indeed, there were competitions, report RNZ: for the biggest (the winner was nearly 18 inches long), best coat, weirdest tail, biggest teeth, and most caught (which went to an 11-year-old who caught 64; one 5-year-old caught and killed nearly that many). A video interview with a few of the kids for 1 News shows fearless trappers: They handle the bloodied carcasses, nonchalantly, with their bare hands. The Guardian explains the island country's birds "evolved without mammalian predators," which makes them especially vulnerable to rats and other predators; for instance, some species, like the kiwi, lay their eggs on the ground. (More rats stories.)

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