DOC struggles on the pest front undermine Nats’ predator-free promise

The Government’s planned predator-free initiative comes at the same time as the Department of Conservation is facing major challenges to keep pest numbers down, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. 

“DOC’s annual report shows it failed on 5 out of 10 performance measures on pest and weed control last year. National’s underfunding of conservation means DOC cannot meet existing targets, let alone seek to wipe out introduced predators.

“The eradication of both possums and goats was scaled back last year to concentrate on the increase in rat and stoat populations in beech forests.DOC says they had 60,000 less hectares under ‘sustained control for possums’ than planned. 

“The report also makes it clear that DOC managed to keep only 62 islands pest free rather than the 75 they planned. 

“Yesterday’s announcement does not allocate a single dollar to kill pests. All it does is set up a public-private partnership which the Government says it will ‘look’ at contributing money to. 

“It is obvious that the chronic underfunding of DOC will continue to blunt the critical work it has done on the pest front. 

“Predator Free New Zealand is a good idea but without proper funding it is just another empty stunt from a National Government that talks big and doesn’t deliver,” says Nanaia Mahuta.