Not content with declaring war on cats, the increasingly eccentric economist Gareth Morgan has also turned his sights on mice.
He wants to raise $1 million to eradicate the rodents from the sub-Antarctic Antipodes Islands, 860km southeast of Bluff.
With his wife Jo, he has pledged to match public contributions dollar for dollar, with almost $700,000 being raised to date.
“The Antipodes Islands are our ecological treasures," he says. “They are the only home for the Antipodes Island snipe and the Antipodes Island parakeet.
“Lots of other seabirds use these islands as liferafts in the Southern Ocean, to breed, feed or just rest – but we have left mice on them.”
Dr Morgan says mice, which are the only pest on the islands, eat the eggs and chicks of seabirds, as well as insects and seeds that are critical to the health of the remote outpost.
Former Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, who lost her job in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle, was a strong supporter of Dr Morgan’s “million-dollar mouse campaign”.
The two of the them will no doubt be hoping that Robbie Burns immortal words, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry”, do not come true.
But with $50 million from the sale of Trade Me deposited in his charitable foundation, Mr Morgan can afford to take the odd hit.
However, whether he can withstand the verbal blows coming his way of late is another matter.
Media commentators and the blogosphere are poking the borax at him for what some perceive as his increasingly bizarre behaviour, the latest being his outburst on cats.
In short, he wants to eradicate domestic cats and has set up a website called Cats to Go where he calls the animals sadists and natural-born killers that destroy native wildlife.
“The evidence of the impact of cats on our native wildlife is clear and overwhelming,” he told NBR ONLINE.
“Cats to Go is a way to demonstrate the commitment of New Zealanders to the vision of a predator-free New Zealand.
“All cats should be registered, chipped and neutered, and the owners responsible for their pets whereabouts, just as happens with dogs.
“Any unregistered cats found on anyone’s property should be taken away by the council and euthanised,” he says.
But this has drawn the scorn of many around the country with SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge calling the proposal “hare-brained” and offensive.
Media commentator Duncan Garner is even more blunt:
“I think Morgan has gone bonkers – stick to soccer – you’re ruining that with the Phoenix in Wellington, anyway. Get back to running your KiwiSaver accounts, Gareth. This is madness,” he says.
Blogger David Farrar is just as vitriolic, saying: “What a fruitcake campaign. Absolute nuts. Why not offer a toaster to every family who has one child only as children are also bad for nature.
“This is so nutty I’d withdraw any funds I have in his KiwiSaver scheme if I had any there.”
Cameron Slater, aka Whaleoil, says “mad Morgan certainly knows no bounds when doing nutty things”.
“In the last year or so he’s fattened up penguins for hungry Southern Ocean orca, paid for a homeless man to have a funeral instead of helping him when he was alive, convinced himself he can coach soccer teams, called Federated Farmers environmental retards, wished death upon a mentally unstable sailor and now the cat holocaust.”
Just how this catfight plays out is far from clear as there are bound to be many others out there who are still sharpening their claws.
There again the unpredictable Dr Morgan might just be playing cat and mouse.