Auckland council approves 1080 poison drop in the Hunuas

An Auckland Council committee has voted to use 1080 to control pests in the Hunua Ranges.

The regional policy and strategy committee has been meeting today to consider whether to use the poison to curb increases in the rat, ferret, stoat and possum populations.

The Hunua Falls. The area's ranges and ponds supply about two-thirds of Auckland's water.The Hunua Falls. The area’s ranges and ponds supply about two-thirds of Auckland’s water.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

Listen to more on Morning Report ( 4 min 45 sec )

A senior council manager told the committee there were seven times the usual number of rats in the ranges, which are home to rare kokako and native frogs.

Councillors were told 1080 is the cheapest and most effective way of dealing with the pest outbreak.

One farmer told councillors the problem is so bad he has seen ferrets the size of cats on his property.

Steve Knutson farms next to council land and said since native trees began flowering several months ago, the population has hugely increased.

He said he is uncertain whether 1080 is the right poison but something needs to be done – especially to protect native species.

“There’s already a heap of poisoning going on up there, so the whole thing about the water etc, maybe what’s being used there now is even worse, who knows?”

The council’s infrastructure and environment services manager John Dragicevich said 1080 provides the best value for preserving kokako and native frog populations.

Public health officials have told the meeting the pesticide breaks down easily and does not cause serious health problems.

The council said warm weather has led to a boom in predators like stoats, rats and possums which are threatening the kokako population.

The ranges and their ponds supply 65 percent of Auckland’s water, but Mr Wood said that it should still be safe to drink if the drop goes ahead.

While there are concerns about using the pesticide where two-thirds of Auckland’s water supply is collected, Councillor Christine Fletcher said she was convinced 1080 is safe.

“I was fiercely opposed to 1080, I have become a convert, it is my view based on careful analysis of the evidence that not only should we use 1080 to protect our forest, but we should use more of it.”

Another councillor, Chris Darby said he reluctantly agreed, but wanted its use closely monitored.

But Mike Lee, one of two Auckland Councillors who voted against the decision to use the 1080 pesticide in the Hunua Ranges, said the decision had been rushed.

He said in the public mind there would be concerns, and it took time to walk people through them.

Mr Lee said steam rolling a decision through, then telling the public about it, was not the way a council should deal with its community.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/256471/1080-to-be-dropped-on-hunua-ranges

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