Future drops of the poison 1080 in the Mt Taranaki area could be canned after an agreement was reached between the Department of Conservation and a group opposed to the poison – 100% Pure Taranaki.
DOC told the group that if they can keep pest numbers in check using traps, a planned poison drop in 2020 will not go ahead.
Chris Wilkins wants to push the passion felt by people opposed to 1080 in a productive direction – towards pest reduction. He is currently teaching other volunteers how to trap possums in the area.
“I’ve been trapping possums for years. Growing up in rural Taranaki, it’s something that a lot of young guys get into to make a bit of pocket money.”
He says he has tired of the negativity surrounding the anti and pro-1080 debate.
“100% Pure Taranaki, we’re quite careful not to be an anti-1080 group, we’re actually a pro-alternative manual control group.”
DOC has already carried out a drop on the Kaitake Ranges and the group helped collect poisoned possums form water catchment areas.
The group then struck a deal with DOC that if it could keep possum numbers down DOC would not carry out its scheduled 2020 drop in the area.
“They use a wax paper to monitor and they said they want under 40 percent of them to be indicating there’s possums around – which is fairly achievable,” Wilkins says.
100% Pure Taranaki also intends to tender for the contract to maintain the area.
“We’re going for grant funding to employ people full time. We need 100 or so to do the trapping.
“You get quite a lot of money for the fur, just under $10 a possum, it really adds up when you start getting good numbers. But later on when the numbers start getting low you’ve got to rely on some kind of contract work.”
Wilkins believes trapping is a viable alternative to 1080 and hopes similar arrangements can be made in other parts of the country.
“No-one’s advocating to sit back and let them [possums] take over the bush.”