Disbelief at DOC’s $15 m West Coast “Pest Free” Spend-up

Opinion by Laurie Collins, West Coast
I read, with absolute disbelief, that the Department of Conservation is going to spend $15 million to attempt to make Mt. Te Kinga, near the West Coast’s Lake Brunner, pest free. The area quoted is 3,700 hectares, which is approximately the size of a larger New Zealand farm. Whether we like it or not, after the COVID-19 crisis, new Zealand is broke. To consider spending this amount of money on such a small area is ludicrous. We simply cannot afford it. However, there is another reason why we shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing, and it is called Trichosaurus vulpecula, more commonly known as the possum. In the 1950’s, the New Zealand Forest Service started a research facility just out of Wellington City in the Orongorongo Ranges, with the sole aim of the scientific study of possums and continued operations for 20 years, studying the complete environmental impact of possums on the new Zealand back country. The following is an extract from a scientific report based on their findings and headed “Effects on Birdlife”. The document was written by Les T. Pracy (NZ Forest Service) and Ralph I. Kean (a scientist). Whilst the complete document cannot be quoted here, some of it can. The following is a verbatim quote from the “Effects on Birdlife” section of the document: “it is obvious that large populations of possums must have some effects on birds living in the same bush habitat. Very occasionally, fledgling or eggs (as traces only), have been recorded in stomach contents, but these are not sought deliberately and do not form a natural food.” So here we are, spending $15,000,000 of taxpayers’ money to get rid of a small furry animal that doesn’t eat birds or eggs. And finally, I would like to think that this is based on political stupidity, but alas, I think it goes much deeper than that.

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