Views #1484 | Intermediate (B1)

Pests and Predators

Rachel talks about a movement to eliminate some animals in her country of New Zealand.

Todd: So Rachel, you are from New Zealand, correct?

Rachel: Yes, that's right.

Todd: Now when I lived in London many years ago my roommate was from New Zealand. Really nice guy, and he had the coolest job. He would ride around motorbike in New Zealand. In the bush as he called it. The wild as we say

Rachel: The bush.

Todd: The bush. And his job was to just kill invasive species. That was his job. Just go out and plant traps for rabbits.

Rachel: Yes, that's right. Actually, I have a friend how does that now.

Todd: Really?

Rachel: Yes.

Todd: So it's that big of a problem? You have to like ...

Rachel: It's a huge problem, yeah.

Todd: Really, like so what animals are a problem?

Rachel: Rabbits like you mentioned. Possums are a big problem in the bush because they eat a lot of the native plants

Todd: We have possums too in America in Northern California and they are disgusting. I love animals but they're one animal I don't like. They just ... they're nasty.

Rachel: There's a big possum hunt in many areas every year and they're starting to sell the pelts as fur because they're not a protected species so there's no limits on how much you can catch and how much fur you can sell.

Todd: Yeah, and they often have rabies right? At least in the states we have to be very careful.

Rachel: No we don't have rabies in New Zealand.

Todd: Oh, that's good to know.

Rachel: So ...

Todd: Yeah, we have crazy stories of possums or raccoons having rabies, so when you see one, like they tell you, do not touch it, don't go near it, because if you get bit you're ... Yeah, I got bit a dog while I was in Thailand and had to get the rabies shot and it was not fun.

Rachel: Oh, that sounds awful.

Todd: Yeah, and luckily for me I went in to get the shot because I didn't know about really rabies. I wasn't educated about it, and I thought well, the dog just bit me a little bit, but I better go and check and the doctor was like, "Oh, now, it can kill you" like "Yeah, you better get it checked out."

Rachel: This is one of the reasons we have very strict import laws in New Zealand. We've seen the damage that can be done, and we're very strict now. Rabies is one of the diseases that we don't have and very keen not to ever have.

Todd: So you have a problem with possums and with rabbits.

Rachel: Rabbits on farms. There's also wild deer and boar in the forests who also do a lot of damage and stray cats and dogs as well also kill a lot of native species. There's no native animals in New Zealand. The only mammals that are native to New Zealand are dolphins and bats, so there's no natural hunters except for hawks. So the birds, a lot of the birds have lost the ability to fly and they nest on the ground, so they're enormously vulnerable to predator species like cats and dogs. They've almost completely decimated many bird species, so that's why they're hunters throughout New Zealand who are basically given free range to shoot whatever they can find because they're so destructive to the natural environment.

Todd: Yeah, I think I read somewhere where you have some campaign to have like no predators by a certain year, right like a new things in New Zealand.

Rachel: I haven't heard of that but I wouldn't be surprised. I think that's always been a goal.

Todd: I think it was ... it was in the news. I'll have to check so I could be wrong, but I think it was 2050 is the goal of the government to have no predators.

Rachel: That would be amazing.

Todd: And they said the big one is dogs and cats. That's like the sticking point.

Rachel: They're starting to get much stricter about controlling cats and dogs now. Keeping cats inside and keeping dogs leashed, so that they don't run off into the bush and cause a lot of problems.

Todd: But dogs I think are probably more domesticated. They're probably not as dangerous, but cats are basically ... they're not that domesticated. They're still natural hunters.

Rachel: Yeah, we keep them with us to hunt, you know, pests like mice. They live with us, so yeah, they catch a lot of birds, but with the birds nesting on the ground and unable to fly, it's very easy for the dogs to kill them as well.

Todd: Oh, I see. And dogs can just be naughty sometimes

Rachel: Heck yes. They run off.

Todd: So what do you think? Do you think your country can achieve this goal - no predators - by 2050?

Rachel: It sounds very challenging. I think at present, only some of the offshore islands are completely pest free. Well, no predators yeah that's not quite the same as no pests because pests also include things like rabbits and possums and deer that don't eat the native species so just predator free might be a bit more achievable I think.

Answer these questions about the interview.
Audio Lessons about Phrases and Vocabulary



They're vulnerable to predator species.

A predator is an animal that kills other animals for food. Notice the following:

  1. Sharks are well-known predators.
  2. A predator needs other animals to hunt to survive.

give free range


Hunters are given free range to shoot.

When you are given free range to do something, you can do as you please without restrictions. Notice the following:

  1. We were given free range to travel anywhere we wanted.
  2. I was given free range to do as I like in school.

I could be wrong


I'll have to check as I could be wrong,

We use the phrase, I could be wrong, to express uncertainty. Notice the following:

  1. I think 30 people work here, but I could be wrong.
  2. The test in on the 28th, but I could be wrong.

the sticking point


That's like the sticking point.

A sticking point is an obstacle towards reaching an agreement. Notice the following:

  1. The two companies cannot reach a deal. There is a sticking point about the terms of service.
  2. Price is often a sticking point with buyers and sellers.



They've decimated many bird species.

When you decimate something, you completely destroy it or harm it. Notice the following:

  1. The earthquake decimated the economy.
  2. The drought decimated the farmland.

Vocabulary Quiz

predator • free range • could be wrong
sticking point • decimated
  1. The city was by the earthquake.
  2. I was given to do what I wanted.
  3. I think the party is cancelled, but I .
  4. Money is usually a in negotiations.
  5. Sharks are both prey and .

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Hello, and welcome to elllo. My name is Todd Beuckens. I've been an ESL teacher for 25 years. I created elllo to provide teachers and students free audio lessons and learning materials not usually found in commercial textbooks.
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