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Council plans attack on pests

Environment Waikato has proposed a new strategy to attack plant and animal pests in the Region.

It has proposed a second Waikato Regional Pest Management Strategy which outlines the way it will manage plant and animal pests over the next five years. The strategy has management programmes, with different levels of regional participation proposed, for 71 plant pests, such as old man’s beard, spartina and privet and 22 animal pests, such as possums, goats, koi carp and magpies.

Programme manager Peter Russell said the Council believed the pests in the Strategy warranted regional intervention, which meant there would be costs and obligations for people living in the Region.

Substantial gains had been made over the past five years under the first Strategy, including reducing known sites of nasella tussock and African feather grass to near zero density, privet removed from some rural towns, more biological control methods, 52,500 hectares of land covered by community possum control schemes and known wallaby populations in the Region reduced to near zero.

The Strategy includes voluntary plant and animal pest control partnerships with people who have land of important ecological value, and more control of pests which pose a Region-wide threat, such as rooks and wild ginger. There are new obligations for land occupiers to control pests on their land, such as moth plant, mignonette vine and magpies if there is a complaint.

The past focus on pasture weeds, such as ragwort and thistles has gradually shifted to new, environmentally damaging plants which are just establishing in the Region.

“The changes in farming practices, particularly in dairying over the past three to four years, has seen a big reduction in ragwort and thistle infestations,” Mr Russell said.

“While rules remain for these weeds, they are less significant in the overall Strategy for the Region.”

New initiatives in research and control methods are proposed to manage koi carp, which are creating problems in the Region’s waterways and new biological controls may become available for some pests. Increased direct control is proposed for animal pests such as feral goats and possums.

Pests are divided into those to be eradicated, contained or under surveillance while others were regarded as information pests where awareness of them would be raised to encourage voluntary control. Each pest, where direct control or rules may apply for their control, has a cost benefit analysis of the costs of different control options compared with the cost to the Region of doing nothing.

The proposals mean an increase in the general rate would be necessary, from July 2002, to fund the wider community demand for pest control. No increase is proposed for the Biosecurity Works and Services Rate for the next five years.

Written submissions are invited on the Strategy, which must be in to the Council by Friday, November 23. Hearings will be held in March next year to allow people to speak to their submissions.

Copies of the Strategy are available from Environment Waikato’s offices in Hamilton, Paeroa and Taupo, public libraries and on the Council’s website, www.ew.govt.nz(external link). People can also obtain a copy from Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401.

This media item was current at its release date. The facts or figures it contains may have changed since its original publication.

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