Stewart Island residents want pests gone but no fence please

The majority of Stewart Island residents say they do not want a predator-proof fence.

Islander Vicki Coats' survey reveals residents and visitors are overwhelmingly against a fence, but support the idea of a predator free Island.

Coats said she was frustrated by the lack of answers at a public meeting about the proposal in April, so decided to survey residents.

More than 400 people responded to the survey, and results were separated into categories of fulltime residents, part-time residents, and visitors.

Of the 172 fulltime island residents who responded, 115 were against the proposed fence, but 119 supported the idea of a predator-free island.

The idea for the project came from Gareth Morgan, a philanthropist and anti-cat campaigner.

He set up the Predator Free Rakiura governance group, which hosted a meeting in April to outline plans to make the island predator free.

The group wants to build a 7.5-kilometre long, 1.8-metre high predator-proof fence to protect 4800 hectares including Halfmoon Bay and the Oban township.

The governance group were not allowing residents to have their say, she said.

"They need to sit down and talk to us properly."

The survey asked people if they wanted a predator-free island, a predator-proof fence, and asked questions about different methods of predator control.

Coats has given the survey to governance group representatives.

Governance group member and island resident Sandy King said there were no surprises in the survey results.

While the results say people are against the fence, they also revealed people are still in favour of the overall concept to predator-proof the island, King said.

"I think it confirms we need a feasibility study ... [the project] is still in the concept stage, and it will take some months for that study to be done."

"People need to be patient and keep asking us questions."

Do you support the idea of a predator-free Stewart Island?

Fulltime residents

Yes: 119;

No: 28;

Don't know: 21;

No Answer: 4

Part-time residents

Yes: 76;

No: 6;

Don't know: 16;

No Answer: 2


Yes: 83;

No: 31;

Don't know: 22

Do you support the erection of a predator fence?

Fulltime residents

Yes: 32;

No: 115;

Don't know: 25

Part-time residents

Yes: 27;

No: 56;

Don't know: 17


Yes: 50;

No: 69;

Don't know: 17 

The Southland Times