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Pest Numbers Fail To Support Coromandel Aerial 1080 Plans

Pest Numbers Fail To Support Coromandel Aerial 1080 Plans

Plans by the Department of Conservation to aerially poison two large tracts on the northern Coromandel this winter are “unwarranted” and should be immediately shelved, according to a local peninsula conservation group.

The Upper Coromandel Landcare Association (UCLA) has obtained recent internal DOC reports on pest numbers for both Moehau mountain and the Papakai Ecological Area outside Coromandel Town, originally released under the Official Information Act last month in response to an official request from the Auckland premium pet food producer K9 and Cat.

UCLA says the official monitoring information just released is “shocking to local residents and undermines confidence in official pest control policy and decision-making for the Coromandel. The aerial 1080 drops are totally unwarranted, even if you support use of the controversial supertoxin.”

DOC has stated in its official “Key Facts About Moehau Rat and Possum Control 2017” fact sheet distributed to local landowners in May that, “the primary outcome of the operation is low rat numbers.” However, in its June 13 response to the K9 and Cat request for all official information on actual pest numbers, DOC admitted that, “The rodent and mustelid monitoring on Moehau is currently being undertaken and results have not yet been correlated.” DOC/Hauraki Director of Operations David Speirs wrote, “I regret that I am not able to provide you with the information you seek.”

“DOC’s Moehau 1080 plan is simply outrageous,” UCLA stated. “The department cites rats as their primary target and is proceeding with a very risky and expensive aerial 1080 operation, yet they have no information whatsoever on actual rat numbers on the mountain. The operation is definitely irresponsible.”

Additionally, according to UCLA, official information released by DOC on possum numbers at both Papakai and Moehau indicates that pest numbers for that species are well under control and can be easily reduced further by inexpensive hunting and trapping contracts. DOC released details of its most recent possum monitoring for both locations carried by Systematic Pest Management on behalf of the department’s Whitianga and Coromandel offices in response to the K9 and Cat request.

“At Papakai, just 21 possums were caught during 407 trap nights in February, and over half of the trap lines produced one or no possums. During Moehau monitoring last winter, only 33 possums were caught over 669 trap nights, with more than a quarter of the trap lines producing zero possums. It is clear from DOC’s own reports that possums are under control and that the areas with slightly higher numbers can be easily targeted -- without the ecosystem harms of aerial poisoning, at much less cost, and with economic benefits to the community,” UCLA stated.

The environment group is asking the Department of Conservation to suspend plans for the 1080 operations scheduled between July and October and is asking DOC to immediately engage with the community on safe, cost-effective, and humane pest control by hunting, trapping and non-residual poisons only.

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