OPINION: Having spent at least three months on Stewart Island, mainly the western half, I am absolutely appalled at DOC's intention to aerially blitz with a residual toxin brodifacoum all living organisms, both vertebrate and invertebrate.
The ideological aim to return this area to pre-European times is simply a fantasy using public money.
If DOC and its advocate Gareth Morgan are seriously sensible about ridding the island of cats, possums and rats with virtually nil damage to native species then employ experienced trappers who, unlike DOC, can get off a track.
The recent aerial disaster using brodifacoum on Australia's Macquarie Island was abandoned after poisoning just 8 per cent of the area yet it killed up to 50 per cent of some endangered bird species.
In addition, several other alarming incidents with brodifacoum have been revealed, such as accidental spillages of tonnes at Kaikoura into the sea, into a Fiordland lake and the killing of fish and penguins in the Hauraki Gulf by intentionally dropping the poison on beaches and sea.
Is the hidden agenda for DOC to poison Virginian (whitetail) deer and red deer which simply browse vegetation as many more moas did and do no harm?
Hunting is a major tourist asset for the island.
In DOC's latest report is mention of "sustained controlled" and "treatment" for deer over 1,099,579 hectares . If this is partly or totally by poison then DOC is acting illegally as 1080 control for deer (including brodifacoum) is against the law.
Now surely DOC wouldn't knowingly break the law?
The buck (pun) stops with Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson.
Department of Conservation Murihiku area manager Andy Roberts replies:
Mr Hanson seems to have been subject to some misinformation. DOC doesn't have any intention to "aerially blitz with a residual toxin brodifacoum" over Stewart Island.
Mr Gareth Morgan has recently talked to the Stewart Island community about the potential that he sees in eradicating rats, wild cats and possums off Stewart Island.
If the community is agreeable to him taking the idea a bit further, then he is going to see if he can get the expertise together to develop a detailed plan on what would actually be involved in eradicating any or all of these pests.
At the same time, the Morgan Foundation has proposed completing an economic cost-benefit analysis. With these two bits of information, then New Zealand will be well placed to discuss the whole issue of pest removal from Stewart Island.
- The Southland Times
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