Q&A

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  • Comment from Mary Molloy:

    Dear Predator Free Stewart Island.

    Apart from my natural dislike of poisons and the knowledge I have as to their repeated adverse effects on the environment I with to have seriously noted.

    1. You have absolutely no involvement nor does it seem you intend to take into consideration the benefits or otherwise to the ecology on Stewart Island. There will always be adverse effects no matter what method is used. These are not researched and nor do you have a world class Island ecologist involved. This is far more essential than if more tourists will come or not which is an opinion only. Financial benefit should be at the bottom of the list of requirements.
    2.You are not involving owners of property on the Island who may also be involved in the tourism industry or may just own property and visit from time to time as they are able.
    3.Stewart Island is largely a National Park and the people of NZ are not notified nor able to be involved. Your project while laudable in its aims is not managed scientifically soundly while it remains without the above.
    ————————————————————————–
    Answer: From Philip Bell, On behalf of the Predator-Free Rakiura Governance Group

    Dear Mary,
    Thank you for your submission via the website. Your concerns have been noted by the team.

    We are only at the very beginning of this project to eliminate predators from Rakiura/Stewart Island. No decisions have been made on any matter, including the methodology or who will be carrying out the work itself.

    The documents developed so far are to initiate the discussions with the many stakeholders (be they on the island itself or anywhere in the country but with an interest in Rakiura). These discussions are being led by the Predator-Free Rakiura Governance Group.

    Please note that there will be a community meeting on Rakiura in April to further discuss this project. All members of the island community are very welcome and encouraged to attend and participate in the conversations.
    Information will continue to be provided on the website, as the project develops.
    Thanks,
    Phil Bell
    ——————————————————————–
    Comment from Mary Molloy:

    What can I say?

    You are making huge decisions and plans still without meaningful consultation with a world recognised Island ecologist. This is essential as it may even be decided that laudable as the concept of ridding Stewart Island of predators, it may in fact be more harmful to interfere than to allow what is a healthy and vibrant biodiversity to just exist.

    I am interested in your use of the word predators – NZ and Stewart Island have a number of native predators which should not be harmed. The word predators as you use it is vague and non-specific and each of us will make different decisions as to what you mean. What do you mean?

    I am mindful you state the methodology has not been decided but you are talking methodology before you have actually discovered via a proper study of the ecology what may be beneficial to the ecology.

    The ecology must come before any monetary considerations and our ecology is made up of many species still awaiting discovery. That should be a very real consideration too.

    I have difficulty in understanding how other stake-holders throughout the country can have any in-put at all. I know that any community meetings have had only limited in-put and much of that was concern for methods previously discussed in other scoping documents that have been produced over the years. This scoping material is very sketchy and is not based on good island ecological study. Many islanders leaving the last meeting thought nothing was going ahead and yet it is.

    I certainly have not been notified or asked for my opinion or experience and I with my husband own property on the Island. I can find no place that other concerned NZers may discuss their concerns or indeed offer their help and assistance should a good scientific ecological study take place.

    While it is commendable that information be placed regularly on your website, that merely informs in an undetailed general sort of way which I am afraid still does not include any study of consequence nor detail of what is needed or how this has been established.

    You say there is a public meeting on the Island in April but you have not provided a time, date or venue so that would be pretty hard to attend.

    Also there are established businesses on the Island that need to be involved, your project will have far reaching and I am sure very adverse effects unless all people concerned can put their views forward and that an ecological need is actually identified by a qualified person not just , it feels good, sounds good so it must be.

    I am sorry to harp on about the ecology but it is essential we apply the same as a Dr might to his patient “first do no harm”. That is a very serious consideration that your website and none of the current documents you have on it or news releases that have been made, have paused to think about.

    First do no Harm, you must involve more people but it is essential that an Island Ecologist of world standing be involved, preferably a group of 3.

    Please put the brakes on and do this serious ecological study first. It is the single best contribution that could be made to Stewart Island as so far piece-meal poisoning and the use of traps has had anything but successful outcomes.
    ——————————————————————————-
    Answer: From Philip Bell, On behalf of the Predator-Free Rakiura Governance Group

    Hi Mary,

    Thank you for the elaboration on your concerns with the project. I will pass them onto the team for further consideration.

    My apologies – the community meeting is on April 15 at the Oban Town/Community Hall. It begins at 7:30pm.

    Thanks,
    Phil Bell

    ———————————————————————————–

  • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

    Comment from Mary Molloy:

    Dear Predator Free Stewart Island.

    Apart from my natural dislike of poisons and the knowledge I have as to their repeated adverse effects on the environment I with to have seriously noted.

    1. You have absolutely no involvement nor does it seem you intend to take into consideration the benefits or otherwise to the ecology on Stewart Island. There will always be adverse effects no matter what method is used. These are not researched and nor do you have a world class Island ecologist involved. This is far more essential than if more tourists will come or not which is an opinion only. Financial benefit should be at the bottom of the list of requirements.

    2.You are not involving owners of property on the Island who may also be involved in the tourism industry or may just own property and visit from time to time as they are able.

    3.Stewart Island is largely a National Park and the people of NZ are not notified nor able to be involved. Your project while laudable in its aims is not managed scientifically soundly while it remains without the above.

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      Answer: From Philip Bell, On behalf of the Predator-Free Rakiura Governance Group

      Dear Mary,

      Thank you for your submission via the website. Your concerns have been noted by the team.

      We are only at the very beginning of this project to eliminate predators from Rakiura/Stewart Island. No decisions have been made on any matter, including the methodology or who will be carrying out the work itself.

      The documents developed so far are to initiate the discussions with the many stakeholders (be they on the island itself or anywhere in the country but with an interest in Rakiura). These discussions are being led by the Predator-Free Rakiura Governance Group.

      Please note that there will be a community meeting on Rakiura in April to further discuss this project. All members of the island community are very welcome and encouraged to attend and participate in the conversations.

      Information will continue to be provided on the website, as the project develops.

      Thanks,

      Phil Bell

  • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

    Comment from Mary Molloy:

    What can I say?

    You are making huge decisions and plans still without meaningful consultation with a world recognised Island ecologist. This is essential as it may even be decided that laudable as the concept of ridding Stewart Island of predators, it may in fact be more harmful to interfere than to allow what is a healthy and vibrant biodiversity to just exist.

    I am interested in your use of the word predators – NZ and Stewart Island have a number of native predators which should not be harmed. The word predators as you use it is vague and non-specific and each of us will make different decisions as to what you mean. What do you mean?

    I am mindful you state the methodology has not been decided but you are talking methodology before you have actually discovered via a proper study of the ecology what may be beneficial to the ecology.

    The ecology must come before any monetary considerations and our ecology is made up of many species still awaiting discovery. That should be a very real consideration too.

    I have difficulty in understanding how other stake-holders throughout the country can have any in-put at all. I know that any community meetings have had only limited in-put and much of that was concern for methods previously discussed in other scoping documents that have been produced over the years. This scoping material is very sketchy and is not based on good island ecological study. Many islanders leaving the last meeting thought nothing was going ahead and yet it is.

    I certainly have not been notified or asked for my opinion or experience and I with my husband own property on the Island. I can find no place that other concerned NZers may discuss their concerns or indeed offer their help and assistance should a good scientific ecological study take place.

    While it is commendable that information be placed regularly on your website, that merely informs in an undetailed general sort of way which I am afraid still does not include any study of consequence nor detail of what is needed or how this has been established.

    You say there is a public meeting on the Island in April but you have not provided a time, date or venue so that would be pretty hard to attend.

    Also there are established businesses on the Island that need to be involved, your project will have far reaching and I am sure very adverse effects unless all people concerned can put their views forward and that an ecological need is actually identified by a qualified person not just , it feels good, sounds good so it must be.

    I am sorry to harp on about the ecology but it is essential we apply the same as a Dr might to his patient “first do no harm”. That is a very serious consideration that your website and none of the current documents you have on it or news releases that have been made, have paused to think about.

    First do no Harm, you must involve more people but it is essential that an Island Ecologist of world standing be involved, preferably a group of 3.

    Please put the brakes on and do this serious ecological study first. It is the single best contribution that could be made to Stewart Island as so far piece-meal poisoning and the use of traps has had anything but successful outcomes.

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      Answer: From Philip Bell, On behalf of the Predator-Free Rakiura Governance Group

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you for the elaboration on your concerns with the project. I will pass them onto the team for further consideration.

      My apologies – the community meeting is on April 15 at the Oban Town/Community Hall. It begins at 7:30pm.

      Thanks,

      Phil Bell

  • cherie hemsley

    Hi there,
    after all the talk of the fence this evening, and mr munns’ comment about our concerns of reinvasion to the half moon bay project area, I was just wondering if maybe we were doing it a bit ass about face? What about spending the money to create the best bio security system to have in place that would mean no re invasion before we even think about a fence?
    kind regards
    Cherie Hemsley (permanent Stewart Island resident)

  • Josephine Shepard

    Hi,

    I was just wondering how you were considering going about controlling trapping/bait stations etc on private land. Will this be a requirement of the land owner or will there be assigned people doing this for us?

    Prehaps more study and research should have been conducted on this area before this proposal was put in place.

  • Alistair Faulknor

    Hi Phil, Thanks for answering my question about alternate poisons that may be available, it is a shame that these other poisons where not mentioned in your report. It appears to me, and others, that after some investigation that the choices we were given may have a politically,and or financial benefit to certain parties, who are only interested in the profit gained from the sale of these controversial chemicals. Please come clean and tell us why the department try’s to force these two chemicals on us?
    Also I would like to know what the expected collateral loss of life will be with all the possible chemical baits that maybe used, both by aerial drops and by bait stations?
    The other questions I have relate to the “Fence”. No-one I have spoken to is happy with a bloody great clearing through the Island. Is it not possible to reduce the area required for the fence by arborist’s trimming the trees to insure that should they fall, they fall away from the fence? I know that this can be done as I have done this sort of work myself. Should any trees need removal, perhaps donating them to the community, for community projects may ease the blow of the destruction of our native forest.

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      Hi Alistair,

      Thanks for your questions.

      The document was a preliminary outline of the aspects involved in an eradication project, hence why every possible toxin that could be used for ground-based operations was not detailed. The two toxins specifically mentioned (1080 and brodifacoum) are the only two toxins that are legal and proven under the method (aerial application) outlined in that section of the document. The decision was made to name them specifically, so that people were clear on which toxins we were referring to in that regard. I can assure you there is no financial or political gain to be made by DOC if these toxins are to be used.

      There is no doubt that, with any method used in an eradication project, there is the potential for non-target deaths. It is impossible to determine the scale of these impacts at this point. However, this will be a key component of the next stage of work as we develop the detailed options for how this project could proceed (should all partners, including the islanders, agree to the proposal).

      The vegetation clearance for the fence is necessary to ensure the integrity of the fence. The experience gained with the predator fence at Maungatautiri (in the Waikato) is that tree fall onto the fence is a known cause of reinvasion by rats. The current standard practice for vegetation clearance for predator fences is 5 metres either side. Whether that clearance gap can be reduced will be investigated as the detail about how best to proceed with the fence concept is developed.

      I really like your idea of donating the cleared wood back to the local community for their use in community projects. I will be promoting that to the project team, so that it can be implemented should the project (and fence) proceed.

      Thanks,
      Phil

  • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

    Q) The community meeting of April 15th 2014 didn’t seem to answer a lot of the questions in much detail. Why is that?

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      A) Many of the questions (e.g. on methodology, biosecurity, etc) were at a level that could not be answered at this time because the detailed work required to analyse and assess the various options has not yet been done. The next stage in the evaluation and options project will be undertaking this work, and all the information gathered will be made available to all interested parties via the website or directly on the island (in a similar way to the documents we completed and released in May 2013 and March 2014) – Philip Bell

  • Sandy King

    These questions are from Lania Edwards of Stewart Island.

    1).
    If eradication is approved by the community, what will be the most likely form
    of pest eradication for Paterson Inlet, Big Glory Bay, & Bravo?

    2).
    Are the 3 species of skink that are endemic to Stewart Island & Codfish
    Island at any risk if aerial dropped poison is used, & if so what are you
    going to do to protect them?

    3). I
    would like to see for those of the community who own dogs & cats an
    estimate on pet deaths. This of course is only relevant if poison is used &
    depending on how it is used in the populated area. Would this be done? Would
    you do this?

    4).
    If eradication goes ahead and is achieved, what will this mean for pet owners?
    Will you try to faze out pets altogether on the Island?

    5).
    Which surrounding islands will be included in the eradication process? (As no
    names are mentioned.)

    • Hi Lania, most of these questions are part of our work in progress, so best answered by FAQ 6a http://predatorfreestewartisland.org.nz/work-progress-faq/

      There is no plan to phase out pets on the island, however under the Southland Pest Management Strategy all cats on the island should already be micro-chipped and neutered. This just hasn’t been implemented yet. This change would mean any lost pet cats couldn’t go feral and breed, and it would be possible to tell pets from feral cats.

      I will let DOC respond on the issue of skinks and surrounding islands.

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      Hello Lania,

      2). Are the 3 species of skink that are endemic to Stewart Island & Codfish Island at any risk if aerial dropped poison is used, & if so what are you going to do to protect them?

      This issue would need to be investigated, if aerial use of toxin (or any use of toxin) is the method chosen. This work could involve using non-toxic bait to test whether the skinks will eat the bait, therefore assessing the exposure risk. We would need to look at other projects undertaken on islands with lizards to get an understanding of the likelihood of the toxin killing the lizards. If it was found that the toxin was a risk to the lizards, some of the populations could be kept in captivity until after the operation is completed for release back on the island. This has been done before with other species (e.g. birds).

      5). Which surrounding islands will be included in the eradication process? (As no names are mentioned.)

      Any islands surrounding Rakiura that have predator populations on them will need to be targeted. It is especially the case for any islands within 1km of Rakiura, as this is the known swimming distance of rats (so they could reinvade unassisted from those islands).

      Cheers,
      Phil

  • cherie hemsley

    Thanks for your response Geoff, I don’t entirely agree with your response, nothings impossible. I would like to know if there could be a representative on the committee for SIRCET, a local community group that has been pest controlling part of the HMB area for over 10years now, I also believe they some valuable information regarding pest control here and community ‘buy in’. Have you guys read the IEAG review of the original scoping document written in 2008?

    • Thanks Cherie. Trying to completely stop reinvasion without stopping movement would probably mean quarantine procedures that are overly time consuming, restrictive, expensive, legislative, invasive (to the people being searched & having their belongings/boats searched) & just not acceptable to the public at large. That is why we need to strike a balance between keeping predators off the island and making sure they don’t establish if they do reinvade.

      As to the SIRCET representation on the Governance Group – the idea of the Group is not to be representative of everyone but to ensure that everyone has a conduit for information to flow. It is critical that SIRCET communicate openly with the island community reps (Jill and Sandy), and vice versa to ensure we are getting the best information, in order to develop the right plans for the island. It will also be important for the SIRCET information and knowledge you refer to (regarding pest management etc) to be fed into the next phase of work, including the detailed options for eradication. The Group will ensure that SIRCET is connected up with the person/people leading that aspect of the work.

      Sandy will be in touch about the IEAG response to the 2008 scoping document to see if it can be made available.

      • cherie hemsley

        Roger that Geoff, thanks for your communication.

  • Sandy King

    Hi, some toxins are said to make poisoned animals thirsty and seek water. Are any of the toxins listed as possible options for this project likely to do this?

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      The only registered toxin where it is known that increased thirst can occur in animals that consume it is cholecalciferol (which is a toxin for rats and possums). This toxin will be investigated as part of the development of the detailed options for predator elimination. All these options will be made available to the communities of interest for further discussion before any decisions are made.

  • Sandy King

    Hi,
    While talking to locals about this project some interesting questions come up. I’m going to post them because the answers might be of interest to many people, and so that questions that can’t be fully answered until more detailed work has been done are flagged as issues that the feasibility study needs to look at.

    So next question:

    FAQ 6a) says that “aerial application of toxins will not be used for the township area”, but where is the boundary of the “township area” and who defines it? In other words, if aerial application of toxins is a method chosen, how close to the township would it occur?

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      The ‘boundary’ has not been defined yet. This will not be known until the detailed work is completed as part of the feasibility assessment. The option of using aerial application of toxin will be investigated, and options developed for how it could be used (including options for the township ‘boundary’). Of course, other methodologies such as trapping and bait stations will also be thoroughly investigated. All these options will be made available to the communities of interest for further discussion before any decisions are made. Cheers, Phil

  • Sandy King

    These questions from Ron Morrison, Stewart Island resident.

    1) Are you willing to conduct a proper formal vote by the community for the question: Do you support aerial poisoning of predators?

    2) Could you please establish whether or not separating the two treatment areas by large overlapping buffers in treatment (as described in the 2008 Scoping document) is still an option?

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      1) There is little point in a vote on any option in the absence of full information. The full feasibility study is underway and will look at the eradication options in detail. Once that is complete there will be an opportunity for all partners involved to rule out unacceptable methods. The Governance Group is yet to discuss the detail how this process will be done.

      See FAQ 4b for more information

      2)The use of buffers, as described in the 2008 scoping document, was in the context of undertaking the full island eradication using aerial application of toxin and ground control around Oban. This is no longer the approach being advocated, as it is considered technically infeasible to complete the full island eradication with any degree of certainty at this time.

      We do have the technology and know-how to complete the Halfmoon Bay project now. The use of a predator fence is a key component of this approach. The ability of ‘buffers’ to stop invasion to the same or better extent than a fence is unproven, and it has never been attempted on the scale that would be required. Furthermore, using buffer zones would require significant ongoing predator control (until such time as the full island eradication is completed), somewhat defeating the purpose of ‘eradication’ in Halfmoon Bay. Buffer zones are not being considered as an option for the Halfmoon Bay project for these reasons.

  • Vicki Coats

    My question seems to have disappeared without being answered!! How do you think these two articles will impact on the projected outcome of this project? http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/news/10205213/Eco-tourism-prospects-in-Bluff-Hill-fence-plan https://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/24354740/fees-cut-for-kapiti-island-visitors/
    And a new advance is this from DOC, why can’t we use these instead of a fence and poison?http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1402/S00802/unprecedented-0-pest-survival-rate-in-doc-rat-control-trial.htm

    And I also notice no link to my survey results (or just the results themselves) have been posted on this site; wouldn’t the local’s opinions be a nice thing for other people to read?

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      Thanks for your questions. Your survey is up on the site.

      If the Bluff project proceeds (it is early days), it will be a one of a number of similar small fenced areas on the mainland – like Zealandia and Maungatautari. This is nothing on the scale of Rakiura/ Stewart Island – even the Halfmoon Bay project is many times larger than these mainland sanctuaries. It would however provide a great safe haven for birds migrating between a predator free Rakiura and the mainland.

      There are a number of factors which make Kapiti unique, which is why we didn’t include it in our study of predator free tourism. With no wharf or airstrip on the island, travel there is difficult and sporadic. Overnight stays are expensive and capacity is small, so it is only really of interest to small groups going kiwi spotting. DOC dropping its fees is mostly of relevance to visiting school groups.

      As to your question on Goodnature traps, DOC is undertaking work to test the concept of defence zones or buffers consisting of traps (including single action, and Goodnature resetting devices) and toxin in bait stations to prevent rat and possum reestablishment into predator free areas; however it is still very early days. Validation of this technique is not expected for a number of years. While the results to date are promising, the technique is not proven to be effective or ready to be rolled out at the scale required for the Stewart Island context..

  • Tom

    Firstly How do I subscribe to your mailing list? I can see where to write my email, first name and last name however I cannot see a subscribe button. Update: I just checked my email and see that it did add me to the mailing list. Still it is a little confusing that you do not have to press anything!

    Another question: How large will the pest free Halfmoon bay fenced area be around about in hectares?

    Also how far away do you think you are to achieving this ( I know you haven’t figured nearly everything out yet but please suggest a range of dates e.g. 3-5 years away from operation beginning and 10 away from operation ending.

    And how far away do you think a fully pest free Stewart island would be?

    I really cannot wait to visit and enjoy such a large pest free island where New Zealand’s natural ecosystems will be full of abundance and be as close as possible to how it was like before humans visited. And I know a number of other friends and family feel the same.

    • ProjectTeamPredatorFree

      Thanks for the tips on the site design. We will get them sorted

      Thanks for the encouraging words Tom.

      A detailed plan is currently being developed with options for how the eradication could proceed. Obviously project partners (including iwi, DOC, funders, business groups and the community) would have to converge on a way forward before any work could begin. And timelines for the eradication depend completely on what option is used.

      Before work could begin there is a bit of paperwork to do – permits and possibly changes to things like the Regional Pest Management Strategy to help manage the biosecurity. This would take time.

      Then there is the eradication, which could take a few years depending on the method chosen. Then we have to wait another few years before the eradication is declared successful.

      So, lots of ifs. It is really hard to put timelines on this until the detailed work is done and partners agree on an option. But as a guesstimate it could be a decade before the Halfmoon Bay project is declared a success, and work could commence on the rest of the island. In the meantime DOC would be planning and developing the technology for that larger project.