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Carter signs off on species extinction

Carter signs off on species extinction

Press Release: Save Happy Valley Coalition
12th April 2006

The Save Happy Valley Coalition is appalled at Chris Carter's decision to allow Solid Energy to move almost the entire population of Powelliphanta "Augustus" snails from their home on Mt Augustus. In doing so, he has signed a warrant for the extinction of New Zealand's newest species of carnivorous land snail.

"This is a black day for New Zealand biodiversity," said Frances Mountier, Save Happy Valley Coalition spokesperson. "Despite consistent advice from his Department that moving the snails will lead to their extinction, Chris Carter has bowed to pressure from Solid Energy and has signed off on New Zealand's first state-sponsored species extinction."

The Minister has claimed that three conservation measures give him enough certainty that the snails will survive, but scientific advice from the Department of Conservation has consistently concluded that the only way to ensure that the species does not become extinct is to leave the snails where they are. "Why is the Minister ignoring his own scientists' advice?" asked Ms Mountier.

The three conservation measures are:

-moving 250 snails to a new area
-moving snail habitat with heavy machinery
-taking snails into captivity

"Where are Solid Energy planning on putting these 250 snails, even if they can find that many?" said Ms Mountier. "We have proof that the proposed site will only hold 85 snails, which is certainly not enough to be a sustainable population. Direct transfer of habitat with heavy machinery is an unproven technique that is unlikely to succeed, and taking Powelliphanta snails into captivity has never led to a successful breeding population."

"Why hasn't the Minister required Solid Energy ensure that these measures succeed before they destroy the original population?" she added.

"Solid Energy seem to have so little regard for the environment that they are willing to drive entire species to extinction. This reinforces public concerns about the proposed mine in nearby Happy Valley."

The Save Happy Valley Coalition is a collection of groups currently occupying nearby Happy Valley, the site of a proposed open-cast coal mine which is home to 13 threatened species, including another species of Powelliphanta snail, and kiwi.


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