Question Time 16 September (1080)
11. RICHARD PROSSER (NZ First) to the Minister of Conservation : Does she have confidence in all aspects of her department’s use of compound 1080 poison?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY (Minister of Conservation): Yes, I do because 1080 remains the most effective method of controlling predator numbers in difficult hill country, and I strongly support its continued use in conservation efforts. The success of the Battle for our Birds shows how important 1080 really is in protecting our native creatures.
Richard Prosser : If she is satisfied that the department did the right thing with its unusual step of not closing tracks or restricting public access to the Coromandel Forest Park during last Sunday’s 1080 poison drop because it “did not see the bait as a safety risk”, why is she satisfied?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY : There was no need to close the tracks, because there was sufficient warning given to everybody who would be likely to be in that area that there were poison drops. The notification process has been exhaustive—490 landowners have been informed, 53 schools, 12 concessionaries, 12 permitted fur trappers, and three apiarists were consulted by phone 48 hours prior to the drop. And just in case anybody missed that, there were 180 signs of this size all around the main entrance points that were taken along the roads in Coromandel.
Richard Prosser : Is she satisfied that the department met all conditions of resource consent No. 122295, and that the manufacturer’s guidelines on the use of 1080, which, according to Animal Control Products is a deadly poison and ecotoxic, were followed?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY : Yes.
Richard Prosser : How does she reconcile that answer with the fact that the bait-processing area was within 100 metres of a perennial waterway, that bait was dropped into a registered drinking-water supply, and that the park was not closed?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY : The park did not need to be closed, and that was in the view of the medical officer who deemed that public safety was not at risk. Ultimately, the resource consents are decided through the councils and the public health safety issues are decided by the medical officers of health. They were both satisfied with the arrangements.
Richard Prosser : Is she satisfied with the fact that members of the public, including three busloads of young Limited Service Volunteers who entered the area at the time, were not informed about the drop and thus denied the choice as to whether they were exposed to deadly poison being dropped on them from the air?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY : I draw the member’s attention to the answer I gave earlier and the signage that was present. If you say that nobody read the 180 signs in the areas around that area—they could easily have seen that, so they needed to have looked at the signs. There were also notices in the newspaper, as well as all of the affected individuals whom I listed earlier being told. In addition to that, there are very strict controls around 80 metre buffer zones as to where these drops can be taken. They were dropped in the appropriate quantities of around 2 kilograms per hectare and the conditions were met. There have been no complaints from members of the public, either to the regional council or to the health authorities.