Sanctuary seeks consent for pest eradication

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Brook Waimarama Sanctuary are about to take the next step in creating a protected, native sanctuary – pest eradication.

The trust have filed for resource consent applications to remove all pests from the area.

General manager Hudson Dodd says the trust is expecting the decision to take a while. “It’s a drawn out process but we expect a decision on that in March next year. If it’s approved then we would be aiming to proceed with the operation as early as winter of 2016.”

The eradication process involves three aerial drops of poison and hand-baiting of Brodifacoum, a rodent poison in the form of pellets that has been altered to remain harmless to a number of native species.

The eradication is expected to be a six month process which Hudson says will be contained to the fenced area.

“It’s impossible to give guarantees but we’re taking every step we can to ensure a safe and successful operation. The site will be secured by the fence so there won’t be people taking their dog for a walk and getting it poisoned, and the buffer zone is within the fence to ensure there is not accidental overshot distribution of the pellets.”

Hudson says that while people may disagree with the eradication, it must be done.

“Everyone agrees that the toxin phase of any restoration project in New Zealand is not people’s favourite part, but it is a necessary part of restoring eco systems in New Zealand in the face of the plagues of introduced species.”

The list of pests includes mice, rats, stoats, possums, deer and goats.

“New Zealand has no native mammal species except for bats, so basically any mammal found on the site is a pest,” says Hudson.

The project has been 13 years in the making and Hudson says this is just a step closer to the prize.

“It will not just create a restored eco system behind the fence but it will bring this wildlife back to the whole region, people will have rare native wildlife in their gardens and back in their daily life – that’s the vision for this whole project.”

The sanctuary is expected to be open as a visitor attraction in 2017.

“The goal is to create a fully-restored ecosystem on Nelson’s doorstep that will restock Nelson with the vanished native species that once called Nelson home.”

The pest removal operation is set to cost $220,000, all of which was secured in 2013 with a grant from the Canterbury Community Trust.