Conservation advocate Dean Baigent-Mercer has dismissed claims that opposition to 1080 is increasing as a "beat up" that would deprive native forests of their last hope of survival.

He has also taken issue with accusations the Department of Conservation has used and will use the poison without consultation.

He had attended a number of hui at Waikare, Towai, Ngaiotonga, Punaruku and Taupō Bay, and other meetings where pest control possibilities were discussed between hapū, DoC and communities. All the pest control tools had been being discussed, as well as what native species might be returned.

"Obviously [pest control tools] includes biodegradable 1080, because of the size of the forests, the fractured nature of the native forests that remain, crazy topography and the density and distribution of introduced pests in the forests," Baigent-Mercer said.


"The use of 1080 baits successfully knocks down populations of possums, but also rats. In the hours it takes poisoned possums and rats to die [eight hours max for possums these days], stoats, ferrets, weasels and feral cats attack the dying animals and consume undigested baits in the gut of their prey, and also die. No other method can kill pests over large areas in three days and nights.

"It's certainly not perfect, but neither are other methods. To protect dogs, which are highly vulnerable to 1080, it's essential to keep them out of forests where biodegradable 1080 has been used.

"We all have a part to play in getting these forests back to good health, and that is inconvenient to some people," he added.

"Pig hunters who use dogs need to keep their dogs out of the forests until the warning signs have been removed. But there's ample opportunity for hunters to fill their freezers ahead of any 1080 operation."

He had twice used 1080 bait stations on his property, helping save kiwi, cave weta, miromiro/tomtits and ancient northern rata in the process. He used both traps and toxins (with a controlled substances/poisons licence), and had not used 1080 without being thoroughly informed.

He had travelled the country, looking at forests where 1080 had and had not been used. He had challenged DoC, scientists and pest control experts to gain understanding. He had realised that much of what he had assumed about 1080 was based on ignorance rather than fact, which he believed often applied to current opponents of 1080.

"I have looked extensively after using 1080, and have never found a dead bird, native or introduced, but the benefit to the bush has been huge in terms of flower and seed production, trees that have been under sustained attack coming back to life and birdlife noticeably increasing," he said.

"Unfortunately we are now at the stage that native forests and many species within them are reliant on us for their survival; that means pest control. We have so many threatened species in Northland forests, from tusked weta to rata, kōkako to pupurangi/kauri snails.


"Pest control in Tai Tokerau is becoming a formidable challenge, and there's no silver bullet, but not using 1080 in most Northland native forests since the 1990s means we have an advanced collapse that we have to tackle now. I'm relieved that after three years of work the investment in conservation of these internationally important forests is finally coming to Northland.

"Last year, when Maggie Barry was Conservation Minister, she announced $380,000 in funding to turn around the collapse of Russell Forest, and committed to DoC working with hapū to develop a 20-year forest health plan for Northland.

"I have watched the development of that 20-year framework and attended hui. I love what is being considered in the extremely complex context of Treaty claims and the crisis that the forest is in, but regionally, despite all the good work that is under way, we are still at the beginning of the work needed to turn around the collapse.

"It's going to take open minds, action, constant adaptation and continuity."