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Bounty leads to butterfly eradication

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/11/2016

School children turned bounty hunters have helped to officially eradicated an invasive white butterfly.

The pest was first discovered in Nelson six years ago and after a $10 bounty for dead butterflies was introduced in 2013 they've been declared as eradicated.

The Great White Butterflies are a major threat to native plant species and the primary sector economy, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

"It's now been two years since any have been seen, and we're confident we can declare them eradicated," he said.

School children netted 134 of the critters during the spring 2013 school holidays when the bounty was first introduced.

A modified garden ornament that attracted the butterflies and caught them in a net was also praised for its success.

"People also kept watch for the butterflies, reported finds and allowed repeated searches of their gardens - all in all, without the help of the people of Nelson the butterfly may well have eventually spread across the country," Mr Guy said.

According to the Department of Conservation a widespread outbreak could have cost New Zealand as much as $133 million a year to control.

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