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Forest And Bird Condemns Dumping Of Dead Possums

June 4, 2003 - Wellington

MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

Dead possums on Great Barrier Island condemned.

Forest and Bird condemns the dumping of dead possums on Great Barrier Island as a clear threat to the Island's possum-free status.

Two frozen possums were wrapped in submission forms for the Department of Conservation's Great Barrier Island marine reserve proposal and dumped on the island. One was dumped outside the Police Station at Claris and the other under a picnic table at Tryphena.

"Forest and Bird calls on responsible recreational fishers to distance themselves from this reckless act. We hope that they will help Police find the culprits," said Forest and Bird's Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey.

"People all over New Zealand will be extremely disappointed in the implied threat to release possums onto our largest possum free island. It is a slap in the face for residents on the island, many of whom support the marine reserve proposal," he said.

"It is a pity that some people so selfishly guard their access to fishing in 99% of the seas around mainland New Zealand that they are prepared to threaten the native forests and wildlife and the livelihoods of farmers on Great Barrier Island," he said.

Notes

Marine reserves comprise less than 0.1% of the territorial sea around mainland New Zealand. The largest areas of sea protected by marine reserves are around the off-shore islands of the Kermadec Group and Auckland Islands, hundreds of kilometres from mainland New Zealand.

Forest and Bird is seeking to protect 20% of the sea around New Zealand, leaving 80% available for fishing. The government is proposing to protect 10% of the sea around New Zealand.

The Great Barrier Island Section of Forest and Bird voted to support the Department of Conservation's marine reserve proposal at its AGM last week.

Contact: Geoff Keey, Biosecurity Awareness Officer. 04 385 7374 (w) 04 385 3392 (h) John Graham, Great Barrier Island Section, Forest and Bird. 09 429 0450


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