By Carol Sawyer
On 11th and 12th February, 2020, 1080 poison was dropped by helicopter in the Matukituki Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park. The loading zone was on Mt Aspiring Station, in a paddock beside a public road. Three helicopters belonging to Way to Go Heliservices Ltd, and two JJ Nolan Transport Ltd trucks were there, as well as support staff and security.
1) Spillage…..in photos here you can see baits have been dropped on the grass (grass later to be eaten by stock, no doubt) and two workers are picking them up and tossing them into an already overloaded hopper.
2) Crazy behaviour by helicopter company…..the helicopter pilot in ZK-HKW has bare legs and face and hands!!! What part of ‘deadly Class 1A ecotoxin’ do these guys not understand? Do they think skull-and-crossbones signs are just for pirate ships?
3) The food chain….. a mob of sheep are driven past the drop as it is happening, along the road beside the loading zone, film crew in attendance. I wonder if they filmed the poison operation!
4) “Baits might sting when they hit you” ….tourists and trampers who had called into the DoC office prior to coming up the valley were surprised to see a 1080 operation underway. They reported that DoC Wanaka had not informed them that would be happening. I was told that, when asked about this, a DoC staffer at the drop said it was OK to be inside a 1080 drop but the baits might hurt a bit if they hit them.
This has been the standard DoC Wanaka stance since the 2014 operation it seems. Tourists visiting the DoC Wanaka office on the day before the December 2, 2014 aerial 1080 drop on the Matukituki catchment reported to me that they were told they could go into the drop zone on the day of the 1080 drop but that “the baits weigh as much as a $2 coin” and might sting if they hit them. DoC Wanaka even stated this in an article in the Otago Daily Times in 2014! https://www.odt.co.nz/…/1080-poison-drop-matukituki-valleys…
5) No proper signage….there were NO poison warning signs up on the day of the drop… only the map of the drop zone and a sign explaining DoC’s ‘Battle for Our Birds’ programme.
6) Hiding ID…..At least one of the security guards present had covered his ID number with tape so it couldn’t be seen…. more on that later in a separate post.
All photos by Joel Lund
PS: Please note this is not the area where female tramper, Stephanie Simpson, sadly lost her life recently… as some are speculating. My thoughts are with her UK family. It has been so sad to think of their receiving that first phone call that their daughter was missing, and now the worst news of all.
FURTHER UPDATE TO THE ABOVE ARTICLE:
DoC WANAKA STILL HAVE SAME CARELESS ATTITUDE TO 1080 POISON THAT THEY DID IN 2014!! MATUKITUKI VALLEY, MT ASPIRING NATIONAL PARK
“While the toxic pellets are targeting rats, stoats and possums, they each weigh the same as a $2 coin and a department spokeswoman advised park concessionaires yesterday they presented a danger to people on the ground.
”Therefore, for safety reasons, it is strongly recommended that people avoid entering the pest control area while the helicopter operation is taking place,” she said.” Otago Daily Times, 24 November, 2014
See 2014 article here : https://www.odt.co.nz/…/1080-poison-drop-matukituki-valleys…
The baits might hurt if they hit you ?! Note the ODT article doesn’t say who “SHE” is, but one can presume it is DoC Wanaka spokesperson at the time, Annette Grieve.
This article was indeed verified when tourists reported to me, in the days prior to the aerial 1080 toxic bait drop on December 2, 2014, that they had called into the local DoC office and were told they could go into the drop zone on the day of the 1080 drop but that “the baits weigh as much as a $2 coin and might hurt if they hit you”.
MATUKITUKI VALLEY AERIAL 1080 DROP, (11th and 12th February, 2020)
The story is still the same. Again, in last week’s 1080 drop of 11th and 12th February, 2020, tourists reported that they had called into the DoC Wanaka office before coming into the Matukituki Valley and were not told a 1080 poison drop was happening. Joel Lund asked a DoC staffer at the loading zone about it, and he repeated DoC Wanaka’s party line…. that the baits might sting if they hit you.
No poison warning signage was in place. Is this a policy of the Wanaka area ? The same thing happened at last year’s OSPRI 1080 poison drop at Luggate… no 1080 poison warning signage!
Photo: Alpine Helicopters Ltd of Wanaka at aerial 1080 poison operation, Matukituki Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park, 2014