Pest Detective is an online tool to help people in New Zealand identify the presence of vertebrate pest animals.

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Pest animals are often nocturnal and hard to spot. They leave tell-tale clues that tell us they are in the area.

Browse by Clues

If you are not sure what animal pest you have, browse our photo library of animal signs and match to your examples.

Browse by Culprit

If you think you have identified a pest species, browse the visual examples of its field signs to check your identification and learn more about it.

What do we mean by 'pest animal?'

The animals featured in Pest Detective have all been introduced to New Zealand either by accident or intentionally. They are regarded as pests because they threaten the health of our native ecosystems and/or primary production sector, though special management is required where people value a species for such things as hunting, agriculture or as pets  > read more

Why are the Culprits not in alphabetical order?

The species on the culprits page are generally grouped with other species that have similar field sign. Grouping them together makes it easier to compare clues, especially the images in the Clues section. Each group of more closely related species (e.g. mustelids) are arranged by size from small to large. See more >

Clue corner

Scavenging paradise duck 2sqIf you have found kill sign (animal or egg remains) remember that the remains might have been scavenged by another predator after the initial kill - and not necessarily by the same species. Remember, too, that there are three native predators that also hunt and scavenge.  
> See more about scavenging

How to access in the field?

Mobile Pest Detec usePest Detective can be used on mobile devices – no special app is required. 

Where internet coverage is likely to be doubtful, you can download and save or print chosen pages from Pest Detective as PDFs to take with you > read how 


Culprit corner

Wapiti 1sqIn New Zealand, wapiti occur only in Fiordland – the only free-range wapiti herd in the Southern Hemisphere. The herd is managed jointly by the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and DOC, with selective culling to improve quality for recreational hunters and to keep environmental impacts to acceptable levels.

> See more about wapiti

Junior Pest Detectives

Rook 2sqRooks are pests because they ruin crops and prey on native animals. They like to gather in large groups and build 'rookeries' of many big, untidy nests in large trees. Can you guess why their flocks are sometimes called 'a clamour of rooks'?

> Find out about rooks

Latest from 'On the case' pest detection news

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New Zealand Nature Heroes

27 January 2020

A new book is set to inspire and empower New Zealand kids to be naturalists and conservationists – including being pest detectives.

Author Gillian Chandler wrote New Zealand Nature Heroes to encourage children to become citizen scientists, actively engaged with their local environment.

The book emphasises the importance of observation in nature conservation and suggests varied activities that children can undertake for themselves.

Detecting pest animals is one such activity. There are simple instructions on how to make tracking tunnels and chew cards, with a link to our Pest Detective website for help on identifying the animal signs observed.  

Read more