Ferret in snow
Ferrets were introduced to New Zealand from Europe in the 1880s, along with stoats and weasels, to control rabbits that were breeding out of control. By 1900, ferrets were well established in the wild and definitely played a role in the decline of native birds like the kiwi, weka and blue duck, and the extinction of kakapo on the mainland. Kakapo are now only found on mustelid-free islands.
In the 1980s, at least 17 ferret farms were established in Northland. When these closed down due to a downturn in the market, many ferrets escaped or were set free, contributing to the expansion of ferrets northwards into some of New Zealand's remaining prime kiwi habitat.
In addition to New Zealand's wild populations, ferrets are kept as domestic pets and farmed for export markets in Asia.
Did you know ferrets can threaten NZ's farming industry because they can carry bovine tuberculosis? Learn more about one of NZ's unwanted predators.
New Zealand's ground-nesting birds, native lizards and insects are all threatened by ferrets. Learn what species are particularly vulnerable to this wary predator.
Find out about the predator control work that DOC is carrying out around the country.
Learn about ferret control methods and find out how you can be involved in reducing ferrets in your area.
Predator trap website Information about humane kill traps.
Predator control methodsExplains the current best practice for targeting and trapping ferrets.
Northland Regional Council websiteInformation about mustelid control.
IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) websiteISSG compiled information on the management of ferrets.
DOC's 24 hour emergency hotline:
0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468)
Call to report sick or injured wildlife, and whale or dolphin strandings.