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Published: 2011-02-09 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is keen to see a speeding up of research into new pest toxins that can be approved for spreading by helicopter, says regional pest management committee chair Laurie Burdett.

Her comments followed a briefing yesterday on new toxins that are currently going through the process of being approved for use in New Zealand.

The briefing was from Lincoln University’s Professor Charles Eason, a specialist in toxins used to target animal pests such as possums, stoats and rats.

Professor Eason said two new toxins – sodium nitrite (SN) for controlling possums and para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) for controlling stoats and feral cats - were currently going through the approvals process in New Zealand.

He said trials of SN had showed that animals died “humanely” within 1.5 hours and the toxin had a simple antidote.

Criticisms of anticoagulant toxins and 1080 include the fact it can take possums some time to die and that they can kill other animals which accidentally ingest baits or bykill..

Professor Eason said there would never be a single replacement for 1080, which is the only toxin currently available in New Zealand for treating large, inaccessible areas from the air.

But he said a combination of new toxins like SN, smarter toxin delivery systems and new traps could relieve the pressure to use 1080.

“There are no silver bullet replacements for 1080 but we are making progress on some,” Professor Eason told the committee.

Cr Burdett said EW saw 1080 as a legitimate part of the council’s armoury in the fight against vertebrate pests that damage native birds and trees, and impact on crops and pasture.

“However, we acknowledge the concerns sections of the community have about 1080 and while we believe the risks can be managed very well, we are open to new alternatives to 1080. We will monitor the approvals process for the new toxins and consider how useful they may be in our region.

“If sodium nitrate can achieve approval for spreading by air it may help alleviate the concerns of some sections of the community about aerial 1080 use. However, at this stage, there’s a long way to go before that could happen so we would like to see a speeding up of research into aerial 1080 alternatives and speedy approval for any that are suitable.”

Cr Burdett also stressed that possum control alone would not stop the devastation caused to bird life by pests.

“We need to continue to make solid progress against the full range of pests that can decimate our iconic bird species.”