Gareth Morgan, a philanthropist from Wellington, New Zealand, has come up with a unique initiative to get rid of the city’s rats. He’s offering university students a free beer for every rat they manage to catch and kill. He’s even giving away rap traps. According to Morgan, rats are a common urban pest that are ruining the native ecology of the country. In fact, he’s so passionate about preserving New Zealand’s wildlife that he’s willing to personally sponsor all the free beers. “We’re trying to make an offer that students just can’t refuse, and we’re trying to get them to be our army,” he said.
Morgan is currently running the campaign in association with Victoria University’s Science Society. According to the Science Society president Jonathan Musther, “There are obviously people who get behind it for the drinks, but then there are a lot of ecology students who are very passionate about trapping and very passionate about New Zealand native flora and fauna.”
“The lure of freebies usually gets people along,” said one student. “But when they find out what they have to do they might be a bit deterred.”
Photo: Holger Ellgaard
“There’s actally a win-win here,” said Morgan. “Because the university wants the rats. So dead or alive, the rats will be put to good use. So we thought about the university, we thought about the students. And then actually we thought about the student flats. And we thought, ‘well we got a deal here.’ Because, you know, students like beer and rats like students’ flats. So we thought let’s put those two together.”
This isn’t the first of Morgan’s harebrained schemes. Previously, he had tried a similar campaign to get rid of stray cats to save native birds. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well-received by locals. Many were outraged, especially because it might have resulted in the increase of the rat population. But Morgan argued that there isn’t any evidence for that. “As I say, at most 20 percent of rats end up as victims of cats,” he asserted.
All the trappings are part of Morgan’s project called ‘Enhancing the Halo’, which is an effort to make Wellington safer for native wildlife. His aim is to get as many households in the city willing to help in getting rid of pests. He launched the rat beer trap last Thursday at a local pub called the Hunter Lounge – with 100 free rat traps and an unlimited tab. He is a little worried about the response, though: “We’ve got too many (students). But, you know, we just got to get more traps, won’t we!”