By the mid 1870s, rabbits were becoming a serious agricultural pest in New Zealand. Farmers demanded that the natural enemies of the rabbit (mustelids) be introduced. Despite the protests of bird experts, ferrets, stoats and weasels were released throughout pastoral areas and by the mid 1890s they had spread into forests west of Lake Manapouri.
Far too late, after many official protests, the government changed its policy on mustelids in 1903. However, it was not until 1936 that all legal protection for mustelids was removed.