30 Jan 2014

Big boost in 1080 v rats and stoats

9:56 pm on 30 January 2014

The Government has announced a massive expansion of 1080 poison drops to combat a predicted explosion in the number of predators.

Bait being replaced in a stoat trap on Maud Island.

Bait being replaced in a stoat trap on Maud Island. Photo: PHOTO NZ

To prevent these rats and stoats turning on native birds, Conservation Minister Nick Smith has announced a $21 million programme which will more than double the area of conservation land being protected by 1080 poison.

The drive is in response to a one-in-15 year glut of beech tree seeds, which is expected to boost the rat population by 30 million and stoat numbers by many thousands. This year a million tonnes of seeds are expected to fall.

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand welcomed the plan but said the funds should not come out of the Department of Conservation's budget.

But Dr Smith told Morning Report that other DoC work won't suffer as a result of the 1080 boost.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, and Landcare Research also all say they support the use of 1080 to combat pests.

A five-year review of 1080 use by the Environmental Protection Authority last year found the amount of the poison spread for possum, rat and stoat control in forests and on farms had fallen by a third.

Conservation group Forest and Bird says the 35 forests that will be treated are still only about 12 percent of the entire conservation estate and the time has come to consider 100 percent coverage.

The 1080 drop this year will cover mainly South Island beech forests and cover about 9000 hectares in total.