Kaikoura mayor wants 1080 ban

BY EMMA DANGERFIELD
Last updated 12:00 20/10/2009

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The Mayor of Kaikoura is to push for a ban on 1080 in the region.

The call by Kevin Heays for the ban on the possum control poison comes on the eve of a major application of 1080 in the Kaikoura district.

The Animal Health Board is due to begin ground control of possums in the Hapuku Buffer and Kowhai/Swyncombe area.

The board's community relations adviser, Simon Andrew, was not prepared to go public on whether or not the controversial toxin would be used as part of the operation, saying both control methods and toxins would be negotiated with individual landowners.

Mr Heays said the use of 1080 was something he felt "very strongly about" and he would present a recommendation to the council next month that it ban the use of 1080 within its borders.

"During the ensuing month, I intend to research the processes other councils have followed to accomplish this and to gather as much relevant information in support of such a recommendation," he said.

Mr Heays attended the screening of the Graf brothers' movie, Poisoning Paradise – Ecocide in New Zealand, shown at the Mayfair Theatre in Kaikoura in July. While Mr Heays acknowledged that the movie strongly supported one side of the 1080 debate, he encouraged Kaikoura councillors to watch the movie as part of their research into the subject.

If the Kaikoura District Council votes for a ban, it will be the third council to take action against use of 1080 this year.

Westland District Council voted earlier this year to oppose aerial 1080 operations around drinking water catchments after submissions from opponents of the toxin, which is approved for use for pest and possum control. At the same time the council reaffirmed its support for ground application of 1080 baits.

Earlier this month Taupo District Council passed a motion to develop a sustainable alternative possum eradication and trapping programme, and to immediately abolish all aerial dropping of 1080 poison.

Mr Heays said he was keen to research alternative methods for possum control and his personal opinion was that he would like to see the end to the use of 1080 entirely. He would be looking closely at the alternative options and would welcome any input.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman called Mr Heays' recommendation that 1080 be banned in the Kaikoura district as, "a brave move, particularly when the controlling authority there is not the Kaikoura District Council but Environment Canterbury".

The 1080 issue had not yet been addressed by the Marlborough District Council but Mr Sowman was aware of a range of viewpoints among councillors with environmental policy committee chairwoman Jill Bunting openly opposed.

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The stance of Westland, Taupo and now Kaikoura councils had brought the issue into the open, said Mr Sowman.

"We certainly acknowledge that aerial dropping of 1080 [for possum control] does pose some major issues and like other councils we would support investigation of alternative methods [of possum control]."

In September, Marlborough District Council approved resource consent for the aerial application of 1080 poison in the Waihopai Valley. Contractor to the Animal Health Board, Valley Pest Control, sought a discharge to water permit for the planned drop over 7000 hectares of Department of Conservation reserve and 4200ha of private land in the lower Waihopai Valley and Waihopai-Spray.

Ground drops were planned over a further 18,000ha.

The Animal Health Board programme manager for Canterbury and Marlborough, Ron Walker, said this drop would go ahead as soon as the weather had settled.

The amount of 1080 applied annually varied significantly depending on the need for vector control, he said. The 1080 was used to kill possums and rats, but stoats were also killed through secondary poisoning.

In Kaikoura in 2007/2008, 40 tonnes of 1080 bait (60kg of 1080) was applied to 16,000 hectares at a cost of about $420,000. In 2008/2009 no 1080 was applied in the region, said Mr Walker.

In Marlborough in 2008/2009 28.5 tonnes of 1080 bait (42.75kg of 1080) was applied to 14,200 ha at a cost of about $350,000.

- The Marlborough Express

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