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Funding for Asian Gypsy Moth eradication approved

Funding for Asian Gypsy Moth eradication approved

Cabinet has approved funding for the eradication operation against the Asian Gypsy Moth incursion in Hamilton, Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the Labour-led Government was committed to maintaining tough levels of biosecurity, and had a strong preference for eradicating pests when incursions did happen.

Key factors in the decision were the potential damage the moth posed to New Zealand's urban landscape, natural environment, forest industries, and human health.

Mr Sutton said the Asian Gypsy Moth was one of the most serious moth threats to New Zealand's trees, both native and commercial forests.

"Only one moth has been found so far, but the circumstances of that find mean that we must act."

Mr Sutton said DNA testing showed that the moth was of Japanese origin. The conclusion of the experts is that the egg mass ended up in Hamilton and hatched last spring. Any moths from this egg mass could have mated and, if not treated immediately, would spread quickly.

"The clear probability is that even a single moth catch indicates the presence of a viable population, but at numbers that make another catch from the same generation unlikely. The Asian Gypsy Moth female can fly a considerable distance, but there is only one generation per year. This means we probably have one chance only to keep New Zealand free of one of the world's most feared forest pests.

"This is a big problem for us. We cannot sit back and wait for more moths to be found because by then it might be too late. The moth might have spread too far. We have learnt from other recent moth incursions that it is better to carry out aerial spraying quickly, rather than to mess about with other methods that experience proves not to be effective against moth spread."

Mr Sutton said part of the funding approved by Cabinet would be used to provide health services to any people who felt themselves affected by the spray used.

"The spray will be the same used in the painted apple moth and white-spotted tussock moth programmes, and is used by many other countries in their programmes against moth spread. Health authorities here have been consulted on its use."

ENDS

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