1080 is 'a kick in the guts'

The United Future leader Peter Dunne has described a new report on the use of the pesticide 1080 as a "kick in the guts for many of our provincial communities".

A report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright warns that unless 1080 is used over larger areas of the mainland, kiwi could vanish from unprotected areas within a generation and native birds could disappear from New Zealand's forests.

The pesticide was cost-effective and safe, and any proposed moratorium would destroy more of the landscape, the report found.

However, Dunne said 1080 had been used in New Zealand since the 1950s yet native bird populations remained in serious decline with predatory pests still the major culprits.

"Most people recognise that after 50-odd years of fighting a losing battle it's probably time to rethink your strategy, however not according to the proponents of 1080."

The Department of Conservation (DOC) spent around $100 million a year on 1080 operations but less than $2 million a year on researching and developing alternatives, he said.

"No matter what DOC's science says, spraying such an unpopular and deadly toxin over large tracts of our conservation estate, water catchments and farmland will never be accepted by those that reside in our provincial communities and see the devastation it causes.

"1080 is an extremely cruel and indiscriminate killer, with a high level of secondary poisoning. While it is possums, rats and stoats that are targeted by the poisoning, many native birds, pets, and recreationally-valued game animals are killed by it also."

The Labour Party backed the report, saying it provided an evidence base for people to form their views around 1080.

Conservation spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said New Zealand could not afford to give up the battle against introduced pests such as possums and stoats.

"To do so would be abandoning our moral responsibility to future generations."

Labour was calling on the Government to adopt all six of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's recommendations around 1080 including developing a national fur harvesting policy and ensuring there is no moratorium on the use of the pesticide, she said.

"The Minister of Conservation (Kate Wilkinson) has demonstrated she is only too willing to support Gerry Brownlee and his proposals to mine in national parks; this is a chance for her to support the proposals in this report and make a strong statement for conservation."

The Press