DOC accepts poison drop unacceptable

Last updated 09:28 05/06/2014

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1080 drop earns rebuke

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The Department of Conservation has admitted their dropping of 1080 poison onto a walking track last year was unacceptable, after a formal warning from Nelson Marlborough Public Health Services.

Department conservation services director Mike Slater said the organisation received the warning after pellets of the pest control bait were dropped into a Nydia Track area in the Marlborough Sounds. The track had been excluded from the bait distribution area under a medical officer of health condition for the operation in November.

The bait fell near Marlborough couple Simon and Carol Caley as they were walking the track, despite an expectation by the health service that the public would not be allowed on the track during application.

Slater said the review found that people should not have been on the track during distribution, and the department would be taking "measures to prevent a recurrence of the incidents".

"Failing to meet requirements for aerial 1080 operations is unacceptable," he said.

The department would be putting in more rigorous processes for aerial 1080 operations, Slater said. "We will direct staff to track performance standards and consent conditions to ensure compliance. A more comprehensive project management approach will also be adopted for operations."

The internal review confirmed the incident had not happened as a result of inadequate systems within department procedures, Slater said. The systems and standards for safe aerial 1080 operations were thorough.

It had occurred after staff carrying out the operation overlooked the requirement not to allow people on the track because of "a well meaning attempt" to address concerns of a Marlborough lodge about impact a track-closure would have had on their business, Slater said.

The review concluded the detachment of a bait spreader bucket from a helicopter earlier in the day had contributed to the accidental fall of bait into the track.

Worsening wind conditions had also been a factor, with bait being carried further than expected.

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- The Marlborough Express

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