What will happen if NZ First gets to ban 1080

Dave Hasnford writes at Newsroom:

Prosser — and Peters — continue to insist that “aerial () costs well over $100 million every year”.

This isn’t just wrong; it’s wrong by an order of magnitude. In fact, outside of a mast year (when synchronous mass-seeding in the bush drives predator numbers through the roof) DOC, Ospri and regional councils spend less than $15m a year on aerial 1080.

So they lie over the cost of 1080.

Prosser has been publicly corrected on this more than once, yet continues to make the claim, adding that “Some of that money should have gone into research, and it simply hasn’t.” Wrong again.

More than $14m has been spent on research into pest control technology over recent years.

And they lie that there is no research into alternatives

Prosser has been very busy on Facebook, assuring the anti-1080 crowd that, should New Zealand First gain power, 1080 will be gone by lunchtime, or at least in “a few weeks”. He has put DOC, OSPRI and regional councils “on notice”, that the option of 1080 will be denied them.

“We believe ground control can be as effective as aerial drops,” he told a gathering in December 2016.

Really? Let’s do a few sums: take Kahurangi National Park, large tracts of which received aerial 1080 in Battle for Our Birds operations in 2014, and again earlier this year, when nearly 300,000 ha — roughly half the park —were treated at a conservative cost, says DOC, of between $22 and $27 a hectare.

Let’s go with the higher figure and call it $8.1 million.

Now let’s do that with traps instead. DOC’s best trapping practice for rats calls for between two and three traps in each hectare. Let’s split the difference and say 2.5.

So, over 300,000 ha, we’ll need 750,000 traps for rats (we’d need way fewer for stoats — only 60,000 — but presently, no lure exists that will attract both pests at the same time, so we’d need to either add more traps, or swap out the lures every now and then). Now we need another 300,000 separate traps for possums. I paid $210 each for my Goodnature traps, but the company has said it would discount them for such a large order. In the past, it’s charged DOC $124 a trap, so let’s use that, which leaves us a bill for a shade over $130m.

Now we need to buy the lures, then pay staff or contractors to carry the whole lot into the bush. In a North Island trial, in relatively easy country, installation costs came to $15.20/ha, so for our example, that would add at least another $4.5m. Then the traps need to be serviced at least every six months. DOC has said that it would need to cut kilometres of tracks and build extra huts. Then there’s helicopter time, health and safety compliance, consumables… you’re looking at a minimum of $150m — pretty much DOC’s entire annual natural heritage budget — to tackle just two pest species in one half of a single National Park.

So NZ First is proposing to replace 1080 with ground trapping, which is 2000% more expensive.

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