A backlash has erupted over a potential 1080 aerial drop around one of Rotorua's most-used recreational lakes areas.
The Department of Conservation has confirmed Rotoiti Trust 15 has applied for funding approval to drop the poison in the Blue Lake and Okataina areas to control pests such as wallabies and possums.
But some locals are upset, saying the proposal would harm wildlife, and have vowed to fight it.
Any drop would not happen until 2019 - but about 75 people have already attended a public meeting to discuss the issue.
Local Dennis Curtis organised the recent meeting at Rotoiti Sports Club and in his view most people who attended were against the ''bizarre" drop.
Resident and Rotoiti Hunting Club member Tane Lawless told the Rotorua Daily Post many locals were not happy with the idea.
"We will be fighting this application because there's a lot more to talk about."
Kev Oliphant, who is from Mount Maunganui, said the meeting got "quite heated" at times.
Mary Wood, part of an anti-1080 group, was "appalled" by the proposal.
"1080 is a deadly, inhumane toxin to all animals - wildlife and aquatic.
"Even if the proposal is at an early stage, it's very worrying."
Rotoiti 15 Trust chairman and Bay of Plenty Regional councillor Arapeta Tahana said the trust was committed to the conservation of native forest and animals.
"It has come to our attention that there is a significant pest problem, particularly with wallabies and possums, and the issue of regeneration of native plants and birds," he said.
"We [the trust] put up our hands and wanted to get involved. We put in an application to DOC. Nothing is set in stone nor are we committed to the idea of 1080.
"Through research and advice, we think 1080 is the most cost-effective approach to the issue ... and the long-term benefits are better than other methods.
"We are happy people are interested, even if it's negative. It's only a draft application at this stage. We're open to any viable options."
Department of Conservation senior ranger Erin Patterson confirmed the proposal but said it was "no more than an idea at this stage".
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said she had been advised the trust had applied for funding under the DOC Community Fund and the proposed work would not take place until 2019.
She "unreservedly supports the targeted and very careful use of 1080 based on its proven benefit in multiple pest control operations over many years".
"For now the question is settled - it is the best tool we have available for this work and we won't back down from doing what is necessary to protect vulnerable native species."
Department of Conservation senior ranger, community, Margaret Metcalfe, said the only aerial 1080 operation it had conducted in the area in the past decade had been at Mokaihaha Ecological Area on Mamaku plateau.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council biosecurity manager Greg Corbett said the council used a contractor to carry out an aerial drop of 1080 in the Southern Kaingaroa Forest nine years ago but had not been directly involved in any 1080 operations since.
- Additional reporting by Georgina Harris