The biggest pest-busting offensive ever mounted in New Zealand will likely blow through its $38m budget, as officials face the reality of a massive plague threatening our wildlife.

Even in the earliest stages of its sprawling operation, the Department of Conservation (DoC) is being forced to reapply 1080 poison in some areas, after finding that even small gaps were leaving enough surviving rats to quickly rebuild numbers.

"The rat numbers are at the other end of what we'd anticipated; we are really seeing high rates in the forests that we're trying to protect," DoC's Tiakina Ngā Manu programme manager, Peter

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