DOC to increase 1080 drops in 'battle for our birds'

A map of the planned 1080 drops.
A map of the planned 1080 drops.

A "battle for our birds" will hit an extra half million hectares with 1080 drops this year and add another 50,000ha a year until 2019, Conservation Minister Nick Smith says.

The Department of Conservation's largest-ever species protection programme, it was essential if kiwi were to exist in the wild for future generations, he said in his annual speech to the Rotary Club of Nelson tonight.

Rats, stoats and possums must be controlled to stop them killing 25 million native birds a year, Smith said.

Some people would oppose the use of poisons "regardless of the science", but "reason must trump prejudice".

"The comprehensive conclusions of the independent parliamentary commissioner for the environment and the Environment Protection Authority make plain that 1080 is safe and the only practical tool that will work," Smith said.

The one in 10-15 year beech mast this year would drop about a million tonnes of seed in autumn, triggering a plague of an additional 30 million rats and tens of thousands of stoats.

When the seed germinated in spring, "these starved predators will annihilate populations of our endangered species", Smith said.

The "battle for the birds" would increase pest control in 35 forests to protect 12 native species, mainly using 1080.

This year's extra 500,000ha across 35 forests would increase pest coverage from 5 to 12 per cent of the public conservation land.

The 12 species targeted for protection were the great spotted, brown and tokoeka kiwi, kaka, kea, whio (blue duck), mohua (yellowhead), kakariki (orange-fronted parakeet), rock wren, long and short-tailed bats, and giant snails, Smith said. 

The Nelson Mail