New Zealand’s giant carnivorous snail is at risk of being extinct and experts are now calling for urgent action.

New Zealand has some of the most spectacular land snails in the world but according to a new report, some are sliding toward extinction. The Department of Conservation (DOC’s) latest threat classification report shows that, of the 109 snail species, nearly half have declined in status.

Speaking to Breakfast this morning, DOC’s Kath Walker said there’s been “a perfect storm” of factors that have led to the decline in numbers.

Walker said one way to help the carnivorous snail was by looking after their environment. She said the natural predator have been weka, whose numbers were highest they’d been in some time.

Asked what other factors were at play, Walker said: “Moisture in soil is the biggy, but they’ve probably been declining since humans came to be honest, due to rats and other animals being introduced.

“Snails live in wetter parts of the country because they live in moist conditions and the intensifying climate is killing them.”

She said DOC has managed to keep possums numbers low in areas where snails were, but rats were harder to control.

She said the dryer ground conditions meant an increasing number of rats were living higher up in the environment.

“In desperation, we’ve been being building small fences for snails to keep them safe — to stop the species becoming extinct before we come up with a better way.

“It would be really sad if we lost them.”

Walker said the snails were mostly found in in Whangārei, Te Urewera, Westland, Fiordland, northwest of Nelson and the lower North Island.