1080 Drop For Mount Egmont To Go Ahead – Updated

From the Taranaki Daily News:

“Fingers are crossed at the Department of Conservation for fine weather in the last part of summer to drop 70 tonnes of 1080 pellets into the Egmont National Park.

The saga of Operation Egmont has been dragging on since August last year.

DOC was unable to fly helicopters into the park by the end of its consent window on December 20 because of bad weather and received an extension to March 31 from Taranaki’s medical officer of health.

Plans were then to make the aerial drop of non toxic cereal bait in mid-January, followed by the 1080 bait early this month.

However, DOC Taranaki area manager Phil Mohi said it was decided to hold off on last month and the early part of February because of the number of summer trampers.

Mr Mohi said it was now “fingers crossed” the weather would be right to begin the whole operation shortly.

It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover more than 33,500ha of park in green cinnamon-scented 1080-laced pellets to control possums, stoats and rats.

“At present forecasts for February and March are looking good so we hope to undertake the operation within the next few weeks,” said Mr Mohi.

He said possum control would still be effective despite the delays.

DOC will contact all neighbouring landowners of the park just before the drop. Signs will be erected at all park entrances, along with public notices in local publications…”

Early February and they expect all the trampers to be gone, that’s rather premature isn’t it? Readers may remember the Brazilian couple who were incensed when caught up in aerial weed-killer spraying of gorse and exposed to a “rain of chemicals” in Kahurangi National Park, the second largest national park in New Zealand. See “Clean Green New Zealand Is A Joke.”

But rest assured. Safety is going to be of the utmost importance this time round:

“The bait will be applied using two of Eltham’s Beck Helicopters, equipped with GPS technology.
DOC staff will be clearing bait from tracks and the public is asked not to handle any pellets they find. Dog owners are also asked to be extra vigilant over the next few months, for while dogs are not allowed in the park it is possible possum carcasses may wash downstream during floods.
Safety is our key concern with this operation,” said Mr Mohi.”

And this is from people who cross their fingers?

Update 26 March 2010:

It’s now a few weeks since the drop, how safe was it for wildlife and people in the park?

“No Bird life left”

A possum skin trader, Stu Bracegirdle of Inglewood,  has visited the park twice since the drop. He says that it’s not just the possums that have been killed, he says there is no bird life left :

“Mr Bracegirdle said he often set traps to catch possums around the Mangaoraka picnic area, 2.3km up from the park entrance and 4.5km below the North Egmont Road.

He could not hear or see any birdlife there now. “It was just dead. There was nothing.

“It’s a funny feeling, eh? I’ve spent 15 to 20 years on the mountain as a trapper, and you always had fantails, tomtits follow you round – there’s just nothing.”

Mr Bracegirdle claimed that when he visited that area following the first 1080 drop in the mid-1990s, he took “heaps of pictures of dead birds”. However, because they were not in J-peg format, DOC would not look at them.”

And a couple of weeks ago contractors spraying gorse within the Mount Egmont National Park said they were exposed to an aerial drop of 1080 whilst working in Lucy’s Gully. See “1080 Dropped on Contractors Playing Possum

For more posts about toxic 1080 click here