24 Jul 2013

Environment Commissioner in gun for 1080 support

8:25 pm on 24 July 2013

Deer stalkers have taken aim at the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment for her continued support for the use of 1080 poison for pest control.

Commissioner Jan Wright has released an update of her investigation into 1080, which she undertook two years ago, in which she recommended increased use of the poison to protect native plants and wildlife from possums and other predators.

Dr Wright said she was disappointed little had changed.

"While the update records the very positive response the original report got, I'm very disappointed at the lack of action," she said.

"There's maybe a little more being used but not the step up that I hoped for."

Possums, rats and stoats were continuing to devastate much of the country's forests, and the birds that lived in them, Dr Wright said.

"We've got a vision in this country now for a pest-free New Zealand by 2050 but the reality is we're not going to get there unless we use a lot more 1080.

"It's the only tool we've got for covering large areas and killing those pests, and it's very cost effective."

Federated Farmers supported Dr Wright, with game and pest management spokesperson Anders Crofoot saying 1080 was still the most effective tool available for controlling pests such as possums, which spread bovine tuberculosis.

"If they find a better tool then by all means move to that but so far there really isn't given our quite rugged environment," Mr Crofoot said.

"Trapping works for some things but for getting into remote areas, aerial 1080 drops have really been the best option we seem to have to date."

But Deerstalkers Association president Tim McCarthy said encouraging wider use of the poison was a backward step for the environment and for effective, humane, pest control.

"Not only does it kill what they call their target species but it takes out a lot of our native species as well - birdlife and also the animals that we hunt, game animals," he said.

"You can't indiscriminately spread a poison like this around and not expect it to have some impact on the rest of the environment."

Increasing the use of 1080 would also increase the risk to people who hunted game for food and to the wild game export industry; the export of feral meat from public land was once banned for five years after 1080 resident was found in carcasses sent to Germany.

"She (Dr Wright) has said that this is the cheapest option but is it the cheapest option if it's going to impact on our exports?"