The Department of Conservation is joining Federated Farmers and the Animal Health Board in seeking to meet with the Westland District Council to clarify the Council’s concerns about 1080 operations near water supplies.
The Westland District Council last month voted to oppose aerial 1080 operations “around drinking water catchments” after submissions from opponents of the toxin which is approved for use for pest and possum control. At the same time the council reaffirmed its support for ground application of 1080 baits.
Federated Farmers has criticised the councils stand saying it threatens to increase the risk of possums infecting local dairy herds with tuberculosis and increase the cost of Tb control programmes.
The Department of Conservation says it is also concerned by the council’s decision which ignores the strict guidelines set for 1080 operations by environmental and health authorities to safeguard water supplies.
DOC’s West Coast Conservator Mike Slater said 1080 is a vital weapon in DOC’s battle to protect the hard- to- reach forest canopies and bird populations that help draw tourists to the West Coast.
Mike Slater says the council’s decision also ignores the extensive scientific evidence on the safe use of 1080 around water catchments accepted by the Environmental Risk Management Authority 18 months ago.
“1080 is bio-degradable and DOC also takes great care with our 1080 operations to ensure strict buffer zones around waterways. All our operations are cleared by the appropriate medical authorities.”
“There is no evidence to indicate 1080 operations have contaminated local water supplies and we are keen to understand what the council’s decision is based on.”
“We do not use 1080 lightly – but it is the best tool we have in back country areas and without it we would lose vast tracts of healthy forests and species like mistletoe will disappear from the Coast.”
Mike Slater says he is concerned by steps which may hamper DOC’s ability to protect the West Coast’s most valuable forest habitats and is looking forward to raising these issues with the council.