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Specialist poison training latest addition to Project Possum

Specialist poison training latest addition to ‘Project Possum’

Twenty-one Northlanders are to gain specialist poison training as part of the latest addition to the ground-breaking ‘Project Possum’ initiative.

In a national first last year, the Northland Regional Council and Enviroschools Northland - supported by the Department of Conservation and the local possum industry - offered ‘Project Possum’ through which participating students were able to earn NCEA Level 2 and 3 credits.

Dozens of young Northlanders have since gained hands-on knowledge of possum trapping, fur and pelt recovery via Project Possum, run under the umbrella of the popular Enviroschools programme.

Now – in another first – the programme is on Thursday and Friday this week running a two-day course offering Controlled Substance Licence (CSL) qualification training enabling those who qualify to lay possum-killing toxins like cyanide.

Susan Karels, the Northland Regional Council’s Regional Enviroschools Co-ordinator, says without the licence, it’s illegal to possess, use, store or manufacture the poisons.

Mrs Karels says 21 trainees – a mix of senior secondary students aged 17-plus and the others interested community members – are taking advantage of the subsidised CSL training at the 80 hectare Trefoil Park, 14 kilometres south of Kaikohe. (Among those taking part in the training will be regional councillor Joe Carr, who will be doing a refresher course as he has previously held an earlier version of the qualification.)

“It’s a difficult qualification to get,” Mrs Karels says. “Applicants must be assessed as a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold the qualification, must require the substance for their work and be aged at least 17. They also must undertake practical, in-field training, but once they’ve got this CSL qualification, they’re equipped to kill possums in serious numbers and potentially make a good income.”

Dubbed ‘Project Possum Level 2’ the training mixes practical and theoretical work.

Among the raft of issues covered are signage, notifications (for public, private and government land) and Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) regulations, health and safety, use, storage and disposal techniques.

Mrs Karels says the latest training – which at $250 is about half the usual cost - will be run by Geoff Allinson (subs: crrct, Allinson) of Can Train NZ, who has worked with Project Possum in Northland previously.

She says information about the Enviroschools programme generally is available from the regional council’s website via: www.nrc.govt.nz/enviroschools

ENDS

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