'1080 working well' - Arthur Hinds
Arthur Hinds says 1080 is working well, reports Aaron Leaman.
A former regional councillor has hit back at anti 1080-lobbyists, saying three aerial drops on his property has led to a massive growth in native bird life.
Waikato Regional Council's use of the controversial poison has come under scrutiny with revelations only one Waikato landowner in the past three years has opted to pay for alternative possum control methods.
Anti-poison advocates say the cost of ground baiting is being kept artificially high, meaning there are no affordable alternatives to aerial 1080 operations.
They also say 1080 use has been linked to the deaths of native birds.
But Whenuakite landowner and former regional councillor Arthur Hinds said three 1080 airdrops - in 2006, 2009 and 2011 - had produced "stunning results" on his 454-hectare property.
"The last operation was done in conjunction with DOC and another landowner and was the first landowner driven aerial 1080 initiative in New Zealand," Mr Hinds said.
"I initially had some concerns about 1080 but once the first operation was done we monitored things very closely and all we found were dead rats and possums. The year after the first operation we had a phenomenal increase in tui and over the following years we've had a spectacular increase in kereru."
Mr Hinds, chairman of the Whenuakite Kiwi Care Group, had seen kereru grazing in paddocks in groups of up to 150.
The grazing birds were especially prevalent in spring when their nitrogen levels were low.
Mr Hinds said 1080 bait was a danger to dogs but he was still able to run his farming operation around the aerial operations.
"The only detrimental effect is we don't get a lot of fruit now because the kereru come in and strip our fruit trees. Even our ornamental trees are stripped back; it's a nice problem to have."
Meanwhile, a joint regional council-Conservation Department possum control operation will start shortly in the Paeroa Ranges and farmland near Reporoa.
The operation will involve the use of aerially applied 1080 baits over about 4000ha and ground-based possum control methods over 9300ha on farmland and small bush blocks.
More than 100 private landowners had agreed to allow access. Council biosecurity operations manager Peter Russell said recent surveys indicated possum numbers had increased to unacceptable levels.
"We acknowledge that, as always, some [landowners] have reservations about the use of aerially applied 1080 on their properties. We understand why people are uncomfortable and want to thank them for their co-operation. The reality is that 1080 is the most cost effective and efficient way of treating difficult to access terrain."