New Zealand is preparing for a rat population explosion of "biblical proportions" which has forced the Government to stump up $21 million to protect the country's native birds.
Warm weather has created ideal breeding conditions for forest predators which kill 25m native birds a year.
The vermin population is about to explode, with the second straight year of bumper seed production or beech mast to feed on.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry told 1 NEWS "these are biblical proportions of vermin".
"It will be the biggest single predator control programme in New Zealand's history," Mrs Barry said.
Yesterday at the re-opening of Manawatu Gorge Track, it was announced the boost of funding will help the Department of Conservation kill rats and stoats with more traps and 1080 poison.
The funding will help extend DoC's predator programme from 200,000 hectares to 800,000 hectares over much of the North Island, the top of the South Island and parts of Western Otago.
Vermin cost the economy $3 billion a year and the cash injection is hoped to help the Government achieve it's goal of making New Zealand predator free by 2050.
Forest and Bird welcome the announcement but want the DoC funding to be ongoing.
"This is an emergency yet again we have climate change creating these beech mast events," Kevin Hackwell said.
"We've had three in four years and that's really unusual.
"It's happening so often it should be part of DoC's budget."