Date: 12 July 2018
Response from Reg Kemper, Acting Deputy Director General for Operations:
The Department of Conservation has condemned the actions of a contractor who dumped and buried pest control toxin 1080 in a swamp on Stewart Island.
The contractor has confirmed with DOC that three bags of possum cereal bait containing a small amount of 1080, were left in the remote backcountry during the five-month ground baiting operation. He has assured us that it is a one-off incident.
The bait poses no risk to humans and dilutes and breaks down quickly. Risks to other wild life are also low as no native animals would be tempted by the bait in that amount. Only insects may have been affected in the immediate area. The bait has now been retrieved and the area cleaned up.
It beggars belief that a qualified professional hired to do pest control would think it is acceptable to dump toxin.
The incident has been reported to the Environmental Protection Authority, Police, Environment Southland and the Medical Office of Health. DOC is also investigating what other action it can take under its performance contract with the company.
All contractors using 1080 hold a Controlled Substance License and must operate under DOC’s strict operating procedures relating to the safe handling of pesticides. In this the contractor was also required to return any unused bait to be destroyed with a certified disposal company.
DOC requires contractors using pesticides are required by law to comply with Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act. The investigation underway right now will determine what legal consequences the contractor may face.
I am disappointed and angry that the important pest control work carried out by DOC has been undermined by the actions of an individual contractor.
Only this week the Department met with the pest control industry reps to reinforce DOC’s focus on safety and quality in all pest control operations.
A dead kiwi found at Doughboy Bay is more than 10 kilometres away from the pest control operation and it is extremely unlikely its death is associated with 1080. DOC has monitored more than 600 kiwis during 1080 operations over the past 20 years and not one kiwi has been impacted by the operations.