A Coromandel conservation group is calling for a halt to regional funding of toxin use on private land for wild animal control.
The Upper Coromandel Landcare Assocation (UCLA) is asking Waikato Regional Council to suspend any further cash grants to “community” groups for placement of toxin 1080 and anticoagulant rat poisons on private properties on the peninsula.
UCLA cited a $41,000 grant to the Moehau Environment Group, a local contractor to WRC, for placement this summer of the poisons in bait stations on hundreds of hectares in Port Charles in an operation opposed by many landowners in the small community. In addition to concerns over secondary poisoning of protected native species and inhumane controls generally, local residents have objected to extreme danger from toxic animal carcasses on neighbouring properties, as well as poisons entering the food chain.
A recent memorandum from the Department of Conservation confirmed that 1080 resides in the environment and food chain after placement. The toxin has been implicated in the near-fatal poisoning of three Waikato residents after they ate wild pork.
According to UCLA spokesperson Reihana Robinson, there are safe, affordable, and acceptable alternatives to use of residual toxins, including trapping and hunting. “The $41,000 MEG grant, much of which covered 1080 poisoning on the property of the group’s own coordinator and her neighbour, is a dangerous, irresponsible, and wasteful use of regional rates dollars.”
“Locals cannot walk dogs safely along the main road, children cannot safely explore up the Tangiaro Valley, families can not harvest nutritional wild food, and unsuspecting landowners may wind up with hazardous toxins on their own properties,” Robinson said. “And as for our tourism-based economy, visitors are being greeted with kilometres of skull-and-crossbone warning signs instead of the pristine bush they expected.”
“We are not talking conservation estate or protection of crown land. This is public funding of dangerous poisons on private properties within metres of property lines and roads, with toxins potentially migrating onto other people’s land.”
UCLA notes that hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars are being directed by the regional council this term to so-called “community groups” for possum, rat, and mustelid control with little or no accountability and without wider community support.
“It’s easy for council staff to farm out control work with a few big cheques to a few eco-contractors,” Robinson said. “But unfortunately, it is harmful not only to the environment, but to ratepayers and residents, and to regional council’s own relations with the wider community.”