Editorial: The unlovely best option

Last updated 05:00 01/02/2014

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OPINION: It's no fun doing a poison raindance.

The Government plans a major increase in 1080 drops and here we are saying "let it rain".

It would feel more virtuous, really it would, to be standing shoulder to shoulder with those ready to rail against an agenda of increasingly ardent poisoning.

But feelings can't trump evidence. 1080 is not the environmental napalm that is so often portrayed to be.

We now stand ready to have it pointed out to us that we've been sucked in by, well, where to begin?

By the experts?

This is not a matter in which the scientific community is divided. It just isn't. They have even taken to using phrases like "the science is clear". Please understand that among these guys, that's combative, aggressive, step-outside-and-say-that talk.

1080 is even an issue in which Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers agree. Quick - top of your head - name another. Anybody? Anybody?

Then there's the 2007 report by the Environmental Risk Management Authority - which has since become the Environmental Protection Agency - finding 1080 safe and necessary to protect our wildlife and agriculture industry.

And the 2011 report by Independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, which concluded that considering the carnage predators were causing for our native wildlife, it was not even a necessary evil, but something we were lucky to have, and urgently need to be using more than we do.

Dr Wright followed up her report, more recently, strongly criticising the Government for not getting on with it. Too much spendy-spendy on potential alternatives, not enough budget priority for putting the only working tool in the box, right here, right now, to work where it's needed.

Now she's applauding the Government's response programme for increased poisoning, monitoring and planning as we face an explosion in predatory pest numbers from what's being called a phenomenal mast (beech tree seeding season).

This means a population boom for rats and mice, which in turn provide a smorgasbord for stoats to multiply. The carnage that rats and stoats stand to wreak on native birds, bats insects and lizards is enormous.

Dr Andrea Byrom of Landcare Research says in places not protected from predators, many of our iconic native birds, lizards frogs, weta and snails will continue to decline, but with the pest control plan outlined for the 35 sites around the country "these species will have a chance".

Dr Wright cautions us not to regard the outcome of all this good intention as a fait accompli.

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The timing of the drops is critical, she says, and in that respect the logistical challenge should not be underestimated.

So while many voices will now be raised against the increased use of 1080, there's another call that needs to go out. Please, guys, do it right.

- The Southland Times

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