1080 war on pests gets under way

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 18/08/2014
Pests
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
READY FOR PESTS: Bags of 1080 are unloaded and put into storage at the old Fiordland laundry sheds in the Te Anau Industrial Estate.

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The Department of Conservation has launched its first sortie in the war against a predicted pest plague.

Choppers took to the air near Te Anau and bombed the Iris Burn in Fiordland National Park with 10.8 tonnes of nontoxic cereal bait pellets.

It was the first air assault in the Department of Conservation's Battle for our Birds pest control programme.

The "pre-feeding" technique encouraged rats to eat the biodegradable poison-laced cereal pellets, which would follow when weather conditions allowed.

DOC Fiordland Conservation Services manager Lindsay Wilson said the operation went well after a morning fog lifted.

It was expected that half of the nontoxic pellets would be eaten by rats and possums by this morning.

The 1080 poison-laced pellets would be dropped once all the non-toxic ones were taken up the target species, he said. "We do have a window of six weeks to follow up the nontoxic operation."

DOC compliance staff manned the gate to the Te Anau airport near Manapouri in anticipation of any trouble.

There was also a police presence to ensure there were no breaches of the peace.

Wilson said there was one couple who showed up to protest against the aerial 1080 operations.

People had the right to express their opinions if it was done in a legal way, he said.

Te Anau resident Dave Wilson said he wanted to protest against the inhumane and indiscriminate killing of animals and birds through the use of 1080, which became a "non-selective" poison when scattered by helicopter.

He received a trespass notice from DOC banning him from the airport, but he was not bothered by that. He had seen the effects of 1080 on animals and birds in the bush and wanted to voice his opposition to the campaign.

Many people in the community were opposed to the poisoning but starting the aerial campaign on a Sunday had come as a suprise, which was why there were not more protesters, he said.

He planned to be back protesting, if possible, when the poison-laced bait part of the campaign began.

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