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DOC needs extra money to protect native wildlife

30 January 2014

DOC needs extra money to protect native wildlife from rat and stoat plague

The serious once in a 15 year threat about to hit our native birds and bats must be tackled by the Government by allocating extra funding for the Department of Conservation (DOC), the Green Party said today.

This year’s beech mast is going to lead to a rat and stoat plague that will have a huge impact on our native wildlife. Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced last night that $21 million will be used over the next five years to address this but that it will come out of DOC’s existing annual budget.

“Forcing DOC to take $21 million over five years from its already stretched budget to undertake this added and essential predator control work will be at the cost of other vital conservation work,” said Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The Government has already been underfunding the protection of our precious native plants and wildlife through its cuts to the DOC budget.

“The Government needs to re-order its spending priorities to ensure we protect our native birds and bats from extinction and that other vital conservation work will still get done.

“We absolutely support fighting hard to protect our native birds and bats, but the existing DOC budget is already stretched too far.

“Nick Smith yesterday said that species decline is New Zealand’s biggest environmental problem. Now he needs to front up with the funds to address it.

“Other vital conservation work should not have to be sacrificed because of this once in a 15 year beech mast event. Without additional funding that is what will happen.

“Apart from research into new innovative pest control methods and pest monitoring, the Minister needs to say what other significant conservation work won’t be done because his Government is underfunding conservation.

“DOC staff and the community are already fighting hard to protect our precious species from extinction, they just don’t have $21 million worth of wriggle room to tackle this predator plague.”

ENDS

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