Otago 1080 drops highest

Otago might have one of the highest numbers of aerial 1080 operations in New Zealand but it also has one of the lowest rates of applying the poison.

The region was third in applications of aerial 1080 (43 drops) behind the West Coast (72) and Canterbury (45).

This was showed in a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), analysing the use of aerial 1080 over the past five years.

But by quantity of 1080 used, Otago was only ninth out of the country's 14 regions. From 2008 to 2012, Otago used 206kg of active ingredient compared to top users the West Coast which applied 3.053 tonnes and the Waikato which applied 883kg.

''Despite the large number of operations carried out in Otago and Canterbury only a relatively small amount of 1080 was used.''

Overall only 66ha of Otago was aerially treated compared to the West Coast's 880ha, Waikato's 314ha and Canterbury's 105ha.

This was because most of the 1080 used in Otago and Canterbury was for small operations targeting rabbits, while on the West Coast it was used to control possums and rodents in its extensive forest areas and in the Waikato it was used for possums and rodents on farmland to control bovine Tb and on conservation land, the report said.

There was a correlation between the number of operations and the number of complaints, the report said. Waikato had the most complaints with 37, the West Coast 30 and Otago was fourth highest with six.

Incidents reported to the then Environmental Risk Management Agency had also decreased from 24 to 21 nationally in the five years and in Otago from four to one.

The most recent in Otago involved four rabbit shooters trespassing on an Otago Peninsula property during an operation.

Of the four incidents reported in 2009 one involved the misapplication of 1080 outside the intended area in the Dart and Caples while the others involved placement of bait stations, bait on tracks and permissions and notifications of operations.

Operators breaching conditions were given written warnings by the Public Health Unit.

EPA chairman Kerry Prendergast said the five-year review confirmed the findings of the 2007 reassessment that the benefits of 1080 use outweigh the risks.

-rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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