The Brook Sanctuary information centre. The trust behind the sanctuary has been given permission to drop bait to kill pests within its pest-proof fence.

Approval granted for bait drop

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A controversial plan to drop poisonous bait into the Brook Sanctuary has been given the go-ahead, with the decision bringing mixed reactions from local groups.

The sanctuary was granted resource consent last Wednesday to aerially drop up to 26.5 tonnes of cereal bait as part of their pest-eradication project, with the aim to wipe out mice, rats, possums, stoats, pigs, goats and deer.

It is the latest step in their long-term plan to create a pest-free habitat in Nelson.

But the bait, which contains Brodifacoum, a toxin manufactured for eradicating mammalian pests and is found in domestic rodent bait, has caused protest from several local groups in Nelson, including The Brook Valley Community Group, who are currently investigating appealing the decision.

Chairman of the group, Christopher St Johanser, says the decision “is a bad one”.

“We feel let down,” he says. “The prospect of the wholesale poisoning of our watershed is abhorrent to residents, and the proposed slaughter of all vertebrates in the council-owned reserve is despicable.”

SPCA animal welfare inspector, Nicola Blasdale also says she is “certainly disappointed” with the result.

The SPCA sent a submission into Nelson City Council opposing the drop, saying the poisoning was “inhumane” and wanted the sanctuary to opt for a more gentle method of pest control.

But general manager of the sanctuary, Hudson Dodd, says the bait, which is unattractive to a number of native species, is the only toxin available in New Zealand that can fully eradicate introduced pests, and in the 26.5 tonnes of bait they will drop, only a tiny fraction of it contains Brodifacoum – an amount he says is equivalent to a pound of butter.

Hudson also says the resource consent comes with a list of 47 conditions to meet the concerns of affected parties.

“Many of the consent conditions are in line, or stricter than, the code of practice, which will give comfort to the community,” he says.

He also says the trust will be fully transparent about the process as it moves forward.

The eradication process will involve three aerial drops of the bait, as well as hand-baiting.

Hudson says they are on track to start baiting between July and September this year, but no firm dates have been set yet.