The Animal Health Board Planning To Drop 36,000 Kilograms Of 1080-Laced Pellets Over Golden Bay Later This Year.

The Animal Health Board is planning to drop 36,000 kilograms of 1080-laced pellets over Golden Bay later this year.

The campaign to kill possums is part of a nationwide effort to combat bovine tuberculosis and protect the region's dairy and beef herds.

Vector Free Marlborough is the company contracted to do the airdrop over an 18,000-hectare area in the mountains above central Golden Bay.

The affected areas range from Kotinga on the Anatoki River up to Rockville on the Aorere River.

In preparation for the operation in July, representatives from Vector Free Marlborough have been holding private consultations with landowners and residents who border the drop zone.

These are intended to inform residents about the risks and pinpoint water intakes to avoid direct contamination with 1080.

Concerned resident and activist Grant Knowles said he felt the process was being kept quiet.

"It's a total isolation process. They won't hold a public meeting until after they get the resource consent. So they're just sneaking around, trying to get people on their side."

Animal Health Board regional co-ordinator Danny Templeton said it was the first stage of the consultation process.

"The AHB intends to hold public information days for all members of the public to discuss aspects of the TBfree New Zealand programme. Affected parties and others will have further opportunities for consultation and discussion."

Despite the promises of transparency, Tasman District Council communications manager Chris Choat said the resource consent for the operation would be a non-notified consent.

"Predominantly, the 1080 drops over here are within the DOC estate and they're miles away from anybody."

While most of the 1080 would be applied to conservation land, many residents' water intakes would be affected, and for that reason "[the AHB] still have to get permission from the properties around", said Mr Choat.

While the TDC allows 1080 to be dropped with non-notified consents, the Marlborough District Council has a different approach.

"We feel it should be publicly notified," MDC resource consents manager Anna Eatherley said. "There is a potential for discharge into the waterways and possibility for impact on the public."

Ms Eatherley said the MDC required resource consent applications that involved 1080 to be publicly notified.

"At the end of the day, water is a public resource, and people have a right to know."

Mr Choat said the wetter climate in Golden Bay was part of the basis for the TDC's non-notification policy.

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"Marlborough is a lot drier. Once 1080 gets hit with water, it breaks down remarkably quickly. They believe that with the amount of rain in the areas we're dropping in, the dispersion rate is extremely quick."

Residents in affected areas are being advised not to drink their water for 48 hours after the drop. Drinking water will be supplied by Vector Free Marlborough. Residents are also advised to not to allow their dogs into the bush for more than six months after the drop.

Mr Knowles said he was angry about the way the process was being handled.

"I think they're just whitewashing us. I think we're being treated very disrespectfully.

"By saying keep dogs from the bush for six months but only giving us drinking water for two days, they are contradicting themselves."

Mr Templeton did not see the divergent safety recommendations as a contradiction.

"The main risk to dogs is scavenging dead possum carcasses. Six months is a precautionary period which will be monitored by bait and carcass breakdown, and weather conditions will dictate how long owners should keep dogs out of the operational area."

Mr Choat noted that no application had yet been made for a resource consent to drop 1080. He said each case was unique.

"I would imagine that if there is a substantial amount of written disapproval from adjoining landowners, there might be some questions asked, but we have yet to see that," he said.

The AHB insists that TB must be brought under control "because of the negative consumer perceptions and adverse market reactions it could generate. High levels of bovine TB would also cause significant production losses for New Zealand farmers".

SOURCE: Keepa Tuirirangi via Facebook.