Introduction

The Department of Conservation along with the relevant authorities is investigating two incidents that occurred during its aerial pest control operation in the Tennyson Inlet area of the Marlborough Sounds on Saturday 2 November.

Date:  04 November 2013

The Department of Conservation along with the relevant authorities is investigating two incidents that occurred during its aerial pest control operation in the Tennyson Inlet area of the Marlborough Sounds on Saturday 2 November.

During the aerial application of baits containing 1080 pesticide some baits have fallen onto the Nydia Track and within a 20-metre exclusion area set on and either side of the track under Medical Officer of Health conditions for the operation.

Also a spreader bucket being used to distribute baits became detached from under one of the two helicopters carrying out the operation. This occurred within the operational area. Some baits spilled from the bucket when it fell.  The bucket was removed that day and baits have been cleared from the area where it fell.

The helicopter and spreader bucket involved were withdrawn from the operation and the operation continued with just the second helicopter.

DOC Sounds District Manager Roy Grose said the Medical Officer of Health was aware of the incidents and other appropriate authorities had also been notified including the Environmental Protection Authority and the Marlborough District Council.

‘These incidents are of concern to us and we take them very seriously. We are investigating these incidents in conjunction with the helicopter company. This includes checking print outs of the GPS records of the helicopters’ bait distribution flight paths.

‘We are assisting the Medical Officer of Health in its investigation into baits falling on Nydia Track and within the 20-metre exclusion zone either side of the track.

‘We have received a report from some members of the public that some baits fell near them when they were on the track.

‘We have searched the track three times since the operation and parts of the excluded area either side of it. A small number of baits were found and have been removed.

‘Other areas excluded from the operation, including around a hut, a campsite and some water sources were also searched and no bait was found in these other excluded areas.’

Mr Grose said at this stage the circumstances of the incidents were still being looked into and the full details were still to be confirmed. The cause for the spreader bucket becoming detached from the helicopter is still to be determined.

The pest control operation was being carried out primarily on DOC-administered reserves around Mt Stanley to protect high value native forest, Powelliphanta hochstetteri obscura giant snails and native birds from possums, rats and stoats.

Contact

Roy Grose, DOC Picton Field Base Manager, +64 3 520 3002

Trish Grant, DOC Communications Advisor, +64 3 546 3146 or +64 27 556 1859

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