by Ben Hope
In 1958, a Californian Professor of Zoology Dr William Graf, after studying New Zealand’s wild deer situation on behalf of the US state of Hawaii wrote that there existed “an anti-exotic wild animal phobia — not only in departments but also the public”.
Sixty years later the ”anti-exotic wild animal phobia” is thriving within the bowels of bureaucracy in the Department of Conservation of course but also in local government. A reader sent me an example from down in the South Island, namely the Marlborough District Council’s recent draft Regional Pest Management Plan.
There are good parts relating to wilding pines that stem from shortsighted planting of contorta pines by the Marlborough Catchment Board decades ago and tackling the Marlborough Sounds ailing aquatic environment. But words are all very well. Instead of “lip service” action is needed.
Unfortunately New Zealand has a habit of setting up committees but the result is more “lip service” and strangling the necessary action.
But to return to the rest of the Marlborough District Council’s (MDC) pest management strategy. The bad parts are bizarre. The well paid pest officers in Council have conveniently omitted plant species such as Old Man’s Beard and gorse. Old Man’s Beard has gone virtually unchecked with widespread infestations on roadsides and river banks and even in council reserves. Informed sources say council officers regard the climber as so widespread that it is not practical to include it in the strategy. Not practical?
In a reply to one submitter MDC replied “old man’s beard —- is well established in Marlborough and therefore does not fit with a species led programme in the Regional Pest Management Plan.”
Council is saying it has failed.
On 1080 poison MDC replied to my friend saying “The use of 1080 is outside the scope of this review process.”
However 1080 is an ecosystem poison and therefore a “bio-diversity poison”.
But it gets even worse. Wallabies in the MDC strategy are listed as a “pest” yet the strategy document says there are “no confirmed or established populations of wallabies” in Marlborough.
MDC has invented a pest from its over-fertile imagination. I suppose attending to a non-existent pest will give the bureaucrats in MDC’s pest management division something to do?
Well it apparently got even more bizarre across Cook Strait in Marlborough. The councillors approved the pest management strategy with I am told, not one whimper of questioning the crazy contents.
Don’t worry, the ratepayers will pay for officers to attend to imagined pests while ignoring real pests running rampant.