A controversial 1080 poison drop is underway in Fiordland National Park, despite opposition from deerstalkers.
The drop is part of the Department of Conservation's (DOC) campaign against possums in the Waitutu Forest near the South Island's southern coast.
The forest near Tuatapere is the largest piece of natural lowland bush in New Zealand and a popular hunting ground. DOC said it is serious about maintaining it.
"This Waitutu Forest is a national treasure, it's one of those
iconic places in the country that really need to be looked after,"
area manager Dave Taylor said.
The forest is home to several species of threatened birds and plant life, but possums have been depleting their numbers.
Maori land owner Silna "Tiny" Metzger told ONE News he is aware of the damage possums are causing. He said the pests are responsible for the disappearance of the red blossom.
Taylor said the department's poison drop is to make sure the forest is not lost to the possum.
"It's at a point where the balance is tipping, and the pristine nature of the forest is about to be lost."
But Doc's 1080 ariel drops on Waitutu is not without controversy. The Deerstalkers Association are opposed to Doc's actions and some local hunters have campaigned to keep it as a ground control only.
But Doc argued that aerial is the best option for this particular block of land.
"It's 25,000 hectares in area. It's a massive area and it's just much more cost effective to do it this way, and it's also more effective in terms of controlling the possums, with the aircraft flying on their GPS lines, they get very accurate coverage," Taylor said.
Doc said it is hoping for a massive possum kill after the drop to bring the natural balance back in Waitutu's favour.
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