Rachel Smalley is a radio host for Newstalk ZB. Listen to her between 5am and 6am every weekday morning.

Rachel Smalley: 1080 still the best option for controlling pests but new policy a step in right direction

While those who oppose 1080 - and there are many - will say it's indiscriminate, what is the alternative? Photo / Michael Hepburn
While those who oppose 1080 - and there are many - will say it's indiscriminate, what is the alternative? Photo / Michael Hepburn

1080 will no longer be an issue for local councils. Instead, there will be a nationwide policy.

That's good news, isn't it? It takes some of the heat out of a politically-charged issue, at a council level at least. It takes the argument to a national level, rather than a local one.

The Government says it's canning the old method of leaving it up to the regions to set the rules, and instead it will take a nationally co-ordinated approach when it comes to dropping 1080 in conservation areas.

Finally, we have one plan.

How many native birds do pests kill every year? About 25 million. That's the carnage inflicted by possums, stoats, rats and ferrets. Is it any wonder our bird song is disappearing?

And while those who oppose 1080 - and there are many - will say it's indiscriminate, what is the alternative? And while we attempt to find that alternative, what is the cost to the environment? The Department of Conservation is already up against it trying to protect our native species.

This weekend in the Waitakeres I've seen a hare, a stoat and two rats. That's in the course of the weekend. And that's in an area that's been declared an SEA - a Significant Ecological Area. I've twice had to remove parts of my roof in the last five years because of rats.

The pest issue in the Waitakeres is pretty extreme, and I know the situation there isn't unique.

I still can't quite see how the Government is going to achieve its goal of making New Zealand predator free by 2050, admirable though it is. But at the very least, if they're to pursue it, the decision when and where to use 1080 has to be taken at a national level.

What does it do for our clean, green image? Well, what's happening to our clean, green brand while these pests destroy ecosystems and wreck havoc on our native species?

There is no easy solution to our pest problem, and it's a hugely polarising issue.

But one thing is for sure - the pests won't leave on their own accord, so in that sense, surely this is a step in the right direction

- Newstalk ZB

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Rachel Smalley is a radio host for Newstalk ZB. Listen to her between 5am and 6am every weekday morning.

Rachel’s career in journalism is extensive. She has reported from Europe, Africa, Asia and America, covering elections in Britain, the United States, France and New Zealand. She joined Newstalk ZB as host of KPMG Early Edition in 2013 and also works on TVNZ’s Sunday and Q&A current affairs programmes.

Read more by Rachel Smalley

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