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Press Release – Aotea PoisonFree

A huge number of Aotea (Great Barrier Island) residents have spoken out against DOCs plans to drop 10 tonnes of poisoned bait on Rakitu Island, a relatively small offshore island 2 km east of Barrier, to rid the island of rats.
A huge number of Aotea (Great Barrier Island) residents have spoken out against DOC’s plans to drop 10 tonnes of poisoned bait on Rakitu Island, a relatively small offshore island 2 km east of ‘Barrier’, to rid the island of rats.

• In response to the threat of the poison being dropped, residents have formed “Aotea PoisonFree” to circulate a petition asking DOC to reconsider the method of eradication.

• So far over 300 signatures have been gathered in a matter of days, from a population of around 650 permanent residents. The petition will be collected in early January, and presented to members of parliament, the local community board, and the regional director of DOC, Andrew Baucke.

• Concerned residents would like to see DOC work in partnership with the local community to attempt a poison-free eradication of this relatively large island. Amongst the community are some highly skilled climbers, and experienced large scale practical trappers, as well as biosecurity professionals who would support an alternative approach.

• Recent trapping technology (including resetting traps, and electronic trap monitoring systems, to name a few) lends itself to such an attempt. Rakitu lends itself to a poison-free eradication design experiment.

• Rats have been eradicated successfully in projects, including islands worldwide, using toxin free methods.

• DOC have not explored these opportunities adequately.

• Concerns over an absence of independent research on the long term impacts of Brodifacoum is a factor in the group calling for the review. The use of this poison in other countries is heavily regulated.

• The aerial drop will include spraying baits at seaside cliffs. Rakitu includes 153ha of less than 40 degree slopes. DOC expects that the surrounding ocean will be contaminated in the process.

• Brodifacoum can persist in the environment for up to 3 years. Because of the inevitability of marine life being contaminated after the drop, immediate restrictions will be placed upon gathering seafood around Rakitu…. another reason why the group says the drop should not go ahead.

• This in regard to brodifacoum in aquatic systems: “Very toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment” (Tomlin 2009).

• All vertebrate toxin agents are regarded as inhumane; brodifacoum can cause weeks of agonising pain before death.
Aotea’s local radio station and newspaper are buzzing with the issue. A huge proportion of sane and rational members of the community are expressing their views regarding DOC’s continued use of poison in our fragile environment.

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