'No-brainer' 1080 use slated
Planned drop will cover eight river catchmentsHELEN MURDOCH
Protesters opposed to the aerial drop of 1080 across more than 17,000 hectares of land in Golden Bay gathered at Te Waikoropupu Springs yesterday to mark what they said was the needless poisoning of the community's water and land.
Watched by four police officers in two patrol cars about 50 Beyond 1080 protesters armed with banners and placards assembled in the springs' car park to vent their anger at what they said was the unnecessary poisoning of eight river catchments within the drop zone.
The drop is part of the Animal Health Board's programme to counter the possible spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) into farmland from Kahurangi National Park.
The airdrop across 17,028 hectares of conservation, forestry and farmland between the Anatoki and Aorere valleys followed an airdrop of pre-feed (non-toxic) baits early last month.
Beyond 1080 spokeswoman Rebecca Reider said protesters had decided to gather at the springs to highlight what they felt was the legal poisoning of one of the most pure water sources in the world.
Te Waikoropupu Springs was an important tourist attraction and sacred to Maori, but tourists to the springs, and Golden Bay, would be greeted by 1080 poison signs marked by a skull and crossbones warning this summer, she said.
"This land should not be poisoned," she said.
She said people from all walks of life across Golden Bay were working to ensure that one day the drops would stop.
"We are not giving up or going away."
Protester Kahu and her partner, who live in Rainbow Valley, said the use of 1080 stopped them from being able to gather food or hunt in the bush.
"I've been protesting about this for the last decade and nothing has changed.
"This means we can't hunt in the bush for deer, goats and pigs. They're dropping in all the areas we gather bush food and I haven't seen a possum in the valley for the last seven years."
Laurence Boomert said it was time Kiwis stopped lying to themselves and believing New Zealand was a clean and green country.
The 1080 operations were undermining the country's tourism opportunities and New Zealand's ability to become a world leader in natural food, he said.
"It's a natural no-brainer which is being denied us."
The Animal Health Board (AHB) said the aerial drop, that began yesterday and was due to finish today, would include water monitoring using Ministry of Health guidelines.
It said more than 20 water samples were taken following aerial TB control operations in the West Coast/Tasman region last year and all tested negative for traces of 1080.
The board said the operation was part of a comprehensive programme to prevent the spread of TB in Tasman and Golden Bay. The programme had meant there were just two TB-infected herds in the Tasman region, and none in Golden Bay.
But the board said the risk remained with TB found in possums, cattle and wild pigs in areas bordering the Kahurangi.
‘‘The only thing keeping the region’s 1600 domestic cattle and deer herds safe from this significant source of TB has been the creation of a buffer zone,’’ the board said.
In the buffer area possum numbers were kept at extremely low numbers (just one or two animals per 10 hectares) to prevent TB spreading.
The board said because of the area’s rugged terrain, an aerial drop of 1080 was the preferred control method. It also killed other pests, such as rats and stoats. An aerial drop in the area was last carried out in 2002.
- © Fairfax NZ News