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Death of highly endangered snail confirmed

8 September 2006

Death of highly endangered snail confirmed

The Minister of Conservation has confirmed the first death of a highly endangered land snail, which was being relocated so that state-owned Solid Energy could fully exploit its Stockton coal mine.

This admission came in response to a written question from Green MP Metiria Turei.

The snail was one of 367 remaining rare and endangered Powelliphanta Augustus snails moved by Solid Energy. The snail had been removed from its natural habitat, and was being kept in a refrigerator when it died.

"Under any other circumstances a body corporate responsible for killing a member of an absolutely protected wildlife species would be subject to a fine up to $200,000, but in this case there will be no repercussions for Solid Energy. This is appalling, as there is no difference between the importance of this species to our biodiversity and that of the kiwi," Mrs Turei says.

The relocation of these snails was approved by the Ministers of Conservation and Energy, despite DoC and the Royal Society both having stated that mining the ridgeline at the Stockton was highly likely to lead to the extinction of the species.

"This species is believed by DoC to have only around 500 members left, 367 of whom are now being held in a fridge. This first death should cause the Minister to require the immediate cessation of any further relocation of snails and mining of the habitat. The snails must be immediately returned to a carefully protected and monitored habitat area and he should demand explanations from Solid Energy.

"The Minister does not want to oversee the first state sanctioned extinction of an indigenous New Zealand species. He must take action before another highly endangered animal dies," Mrs Turei says.

ENDS

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