Whanganui District Council chief executive Kym Fell has apologised for a "poorly-executed" laying of rabbit poison at a central city park.

The council launched an investigation into green pellets found at Virginia Lake after a social media post speculating that it might be 1080 was widely circulated on Tuesday evening.

Council staff visited the site early on Wednesday morning and confirmed the pellets were not the controversial 1080 but rabbit poison which had been placed by a contractor managing pest control at the park.

Mr Fell said the council did not use 1080 and that the bait used at the lake was Pindone which was publically available to buy.


However, he still holds concerns.

"Some of the bait had been placed under a tree stump where there was evidence of rabbit burrows and activity. It should have been in an approved bait station," Mr Fell said.

"I also believe the timing of its placement was ill-considered, given the popularity of Virginia Lake during the school holidays.

"I apologise for the concerns this has raised in our community and accept that Whanganui District Council is responsible for a rather poorly-executed baiting programme."

On Facebook, Mark Smith expressed concern about children playing in the area where "...now days a lot of people with their kids go hunting and scavenging for rocks. All it's gonna take is for a kid to touch it and then all hell will break loose," he wrote.

The bait has been removed and council said it was a "matter of urgency" to review its pest management processes with contractor Fulton Hogan.

Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall said he was pleased with how the situation was dealt with by staff.

"Obviously the 1080 thing was a little bit overblown but nevertheless it's given us cause to look at our protocol," he said.


"It was by no means ideal in terms of timing and placement but done in good faith."

Mr Fell said it was important the council protected areas such as parks and "this does mean we have to use pest control methods in a considered and safe way".

"We will be looking at measures to ensure the public is aware of any bait placed in our parks and that pellets are properly contained in bait stations."