Tests confirm Northern Remutaka water free of toxins

Date 8 October 2018

Water courses have tested clear in the vicinity of a recent possum control operation in the northern Remutaka Range.

The TBfree aerial pest control operation on 19 and 20 September targeted possums to reduce their numbers and reduce the risk of bovine TB being transmitted between wildlife and farmed cattle and deer. It used the aerial application of 1080 bait over an area of about 24,000 hectares of rugged native forest between the Hutt Valley and the southern Wairarapa.

Although 1080 breaks down into harmless substances on contact with water, samples are taken to reassure people that no toxin is present after an operation. Consent conditions require water samples to be taken and results returned ‘clear’ before water was consumed again.

The water tests, paid for by OSPRI, adhere to strict protocols set by consenting authorities and were carried out in an IANZ-accredited laboratory on behalf of Wellington Water. The water sampling protocol is extremely sensitive and water testing results from similar operations in the past have shown no evidence of any contamination of water.

Samples were collected from six large and small waterways throughout the operational zone. Water tests were undertaken a week before the aerial operation, within eight hours of the application of cereal baits, 24 hours later, seven days later and finally 14 days after the operation.
While aerial distribution of cereal baits is only used in 10 percent of TBfree operations, the difficulty of the terrain meant the large-scale operation could not be effectively undertaken by ground-based methods.

The TBfree programme managed by OSPRI aims to eradicate bovine tuberculosis from New Zealand, with freedom from disease in livestock by 2026 and in possums by 2040.

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