Need for Golden Bay 1080 drop questioned
Opponents of the Animal Health Board's drop of 1080 in Golden Bay are asking why it is going ahead when bovine tuberculosis has not been recorded in the area since 2002.
An airdrop of pre-feed (non-toxic) baits was to start this week, and will be followed by a drop of toxic baits seven to 10 days later. It will cover 17,028 hectares of conservation, forestry and farm land between the Anatoki and Aorere valleys.
The AHB's regional operations plan for West-Coast Tasman said there had been no recorded or known TB infections from feral animals in Kahurangi National Park. A TB-infected feral pig was confirmed at Sams Creek near the Cobb Reservoir in 1991.
Golden Bay's Beyond 1080 spokeswoman Rebecca Reider said the drop covered the catchments of eight major rivers as well as waterways that fed farm and community water supplies.
Consent for the drops by AHB contractor Vector Free Marlborough has been signed off by the Department of Conservation, the Public Health Service and the Tasman District Council.
The public have been warned to strictly supervise children in the area and to keep dogs out of the drop zone for at least six months.
"Not only is the drop risky to the communities and the wildlife, but there doesn't seem to be any reason for it," Ms Reider said.
She said opponents had questioned the AHB about the area's possum population during an information day in April.
"We were told they don't test possum numbers."
The council's failure to open the drop's consent process to public submissions, on the basis that its effects would be no more than minor, flew in the face of the poison's impact on water supplies, livestock and communities, she said. "How can Tasman say that when people source their water from rivers that have had 1080 dropped in their catchments?"
At least 18 water intakes were in the drop zone, she said.
Ms Rieder said the Marlborough District Council generally notified its aerial 1080 consents.
Tukurua resident Peter Blasdale said the community's private water supply, which was fed by the Tukurua River catchment, would be turned off until the water was tested and given the all-clear.
He said he and his wife, Nicola, opposed the use of 1080 because animals that ate the poison or scavenged poisoned carcasses died slow and painful deaths.
"We saw three native falcons in the valley recently. I wonder if they will still be alive after this. There's lot of harriers around - they will probably die."
Takaka Valley resident and Beyond 1080 member David Benson asked why the consent was not notified when there was huge public interest in the aerial operation from residents.
DOC Golden Bay area manager John Mason said the AHB's application was granted by DOC after the impacts on wildlife were considered. DOC was reasonably confident that kea living in the drop zone were safe, but none of the kea population was tagged and no post-operation monitoring would be carried out.
The consent signed off by the council found that the effects of the drop would be no more than minor, given the public warnings, the benefit to native bird and animal populations, 1080's breakdown in water and soil, the exclusion of dogs and livestock from the drop zone, and the less-than-minor risk to public drinking water supplies.
Council spokesman Chris Choat said it only processed the consent as non-notified if all affected landowners provided written approval.
AHB spokesman Mike Hansen said there were currently no TB-infected herds in Golden Bay. However, the operation aimed to maintain a buffer zone around Kahurangi National Park and prevent TB-infected possums spreading the disease to surrounding cattle and deer farm herds.
Recent surveys had found that possum numbers in the area were more than three times the level for effective TB control, he said.
Reducing possum numbers to low levels and maintaining those levels protected international market access for meat products and reflected the national strategy to eradicate TB, Mr Hansen said. Numerous infected cattle and deer herds were present in Golden Bay before 2002.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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