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Aerial Boi Poison Drop Approved

Date: 21 August, 2008

Aerial Boi Poison Drop Approved

Rat poison can be dropped from the air next year to kill rodents on offshore islands in the eastern Bay of Islands (Ipipiri), a Northland Regional Council Hearings Committee has decided.

The two-member Committee – chaired by Councillor Craig Brown – heard an application by the Director General of Conservation to apply 15.5 tonnes of Brodifacoum poison bait to a number of islands and islets as part of ‘Project Island Song’.

The Department of Conservation project aims to wipe out mice and several types of rat in order to repopulate the islands – which include Motuarohia, Moturua, Moutkiekie, Urupukapuka, Waewaetoria and Okahu - with native bird, animal and plant species.

Weather-permitting, poison will be dropped on to the islands from a chopper over two days on two separate occasions between June and October next year (subs: crrct 2009).

The Hearings Committee heard the application in Paihia over two days last month, issuing its decision yesterday. (subs: Weds 20 August)

The Director General’s application for the four resource consents needed for the poisoning campaign was publicly notified in February this year, attracting 53 submissions, all but several in support.

Opponents were concerned at the possible effect of the drop on non-target and protected species, the transfer of poison from the islands by game birds and that there was adequate signage warning of the poison’s presence.

However, all submitters agreed eradication of rodents was necessary for the restoration of the islands’ native wildlife.

In its decision, the Hearings Committee found the topography of the islands meant the proposed operation was the best practicable option.

While acknowledging the potential for some non-target species to be killed, the Committee considered the long-term environmental benefits would outweigh the potential short-term effects.

A number of steps could be also taken to reduce potential risks from the operation including a rahui (ban) on collecting kaimoana within 100 metres of shore “as proposed by the applicant in conjunction with Patukeha hapu and the Ministry of Fisheries”.

There are also plans to shoot a small number of Paradise Shelduck on the islands to prevent them eating baits, flying to the mainland and being shot by unwitting hunters.

Warning signs will also be placed on all known landing areas, boat ramps and island access points. The public must also be warned by media release at least 48 hours prior to the poisoning and target areas closed to the public, tourist and ferry operators and others until the day after the operation is completed.

In an attempt to address cultural concerns, the Department of Conservation has also agreed to trap and relocate part of a small population of kiore (native rat) from Moturua Island to Wellington Zoo and/or Nga Manu Nature Reserve. Seaweed will also be removed from beaches used by foraging native birds to prevent them eating any baits in the area.

The consents are also subject to a raft of other conditions, including a requirement to keep a detailed log of any complaints received during the operation.


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