Department of Conservation principal compliance officer
Alan Christie (right) issues professional hunter and guide
Dave Wilson (second from left), of Te Anau, a trespass
notice while Mr Wilson’s wife, Ali, and a police officer
look on. Photo Guy Williams
The Department of Conservation (Doc) fired the first shot
in its "Battle for our Birds" pest control programme with an
aerial drop of non-toxic bait pellets in the Iris Burn valley
in Fiordland National Park yesterday.
Operating from Te Anau Airport, five helicopters from Taieri
company HeliOtago carried out the operation over 11,200ha in
Subject to suitable weather, it will be followed by a drop of
1080-laced pellets in a few days.
It is the first of at least 22 operations to drop 1080 over
600,000ha of South Island conservation land in the next three
It is aimed at knocking back rising numbers of rats and
stoats caused by an unusually heavy seeding in beech forests
known as a "beech mast".
The first stage of a similar operation in Southland's Waitutu
Forest is expected to start today.
A lone protester was yesterday issued with a trespass notice
by a Doc officer.
Professional hunter and guide Dave Wilson, of Te Anau, spent
seven hours at the airport's entrance gate under the close
watch of police and Doc staff.
Mr Wilson said he was protesting at the "inhumanity of the
Doc science adviser Dr James Reardon said the Iris Burn
operation was the first because it "couldn't wait any
"We're very concerned about the number of rats in there
already, and we're particularly worried about the bat
A remnant population of long-tailed bats discovered in the
valley three years ago was "on a knife-edge".
The operation would also help protect whio, mohua, kiwi, kea
The "pre-feeding" of non-toxic pellets -- "it's like a
breakfast cereal" -- encouraged rats to eat the poison-laced
pellets dropped later, Dr Reardon said.