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Government 1080 Drops Costly To The Economy And Ecology

Aerial drops of 1080 poison are of high cost to both the economy and ecology says an environmental and outdoor recreation advocacy.

The Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust described the frequency of 1080 drops that have recently been carried out by the Department of Conservation as saturating the South Island’s public lands with an indiscriminate poison that disrupts the ecosystem and ecological food chains causing in the short term rat and stoat plagues.

Trust spokesman Laurie Collins said the monetary cost was also of concern given the general state of the economy, extravagant public service spending over the last several years and languishing infrastructure such as the public health sector.

“The aerial drops are indiscriminately dropping poisoned pellets over important walkways such as the Milford, Routeburn and Heaphy Tracks, adversely affecting tourism, both for New Zealanders and international visitors,” he said. “In addition, it’s a poor image for New Zealand particularly for visitors from the numerous countries where 1080 is banned or used only in extremely limited hand laying. Reports indicate New Zealand, despite being a tiny land area, indulges in over 90 percent of the world’s use of 1080.”

Laurie Collins said the expenditure into 1080 drops was into multi-millions of dollars.

“Figures are difficult to unearth,” he said.”However based on a figure of $80 a hectare from a reputable source, a recent drop in the Cobb area of 156,000 hectares, comes out at $1.25 million.”

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That would be replicated at other drops such as public around the Milford Track costing an estimated $3.2 million.

Outdoors author and conservationist Tony Orman said a retired scientist in the Trust had estimated, the cost of poisoning per hectare and based on 2014 figures and updated to consider inflation, to be over $100 per hectare.

He said the department’s official statement on national operator control operations on public land for 2024 was to cover “more than 750,000 hectares.”

“Using a conservative $80 per ha, that is a total cost of $60 million for this year,” he said. “How many cancer treatments or joint replacements, does that equate to?"

Tony Orman said the department’s continual pleas for more money for 1080 poison drops because of beech mast years was flawed.

“Beech seeding mast years have been happening for millions of years, as long as beech trees have been here. Rats were introduced 200 years ago and everything settled in to equilibrium in predator/prey relationships, until DOC was born and began its mega-1080 drops.”

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