Stop-gap deals for pest control

A Bennett’s wallaby. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A Bennett’s wallaby. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Otago regional councillors will consider two interim one-year deals with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) as funding agreements for wilding pines and wallaby control expire.

The Otago Regional Council’s contracts with the ministry’s national wilding conifer control programme and the Tipu Mātoro national wallaby eradication programme are both due to expire on June 30.

A report to councillors, at tomorrow’s council meeting, asks them to authorise chief executive Richard Saunders to sign the new one-year deals,

intended to just be interim agreements, the report said.

From 2025-26, MPI was looking to move away from using funding agreements as a "hybrid contract" with regional councils.

Instead, the government preference was to sign memorandums of understanding with councils to cover the "partnership" element of the relationship.

There would then be separate "service delivery" contracts between the two parties for the work as well.

Councillors would consider $1,070,000 of government funding for wilding pine control from July 1 to June 30 next year and $700,000 for wallaby control over the same period, the report said.

Both wilding conifers and Bennett’s wallaby were described as a "regional priority pest" in the proposed Otago Biosecurity Operational Plan 2024-25.

They were a concern to the community and had heightened adverse effects on environmental, economic or social grounds.

Continued investment from MPI and regional involvement by the council was "essential" for achieving long-term sustainable outcomes for controlling both, the report said.