Poison pills

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A 1080 drop in top of the lake mountain valleys has been dubbed a “necessary evil” by Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park.

The Department of Conservation op took in 19,500ha of public conservation land last Friday.

Birdlife park manager Paul Kavanagh says it’s not a perfect solution: “Everyone knows that, DoC knows that,” but without any action there will be no native birds left to save.

“We’re losing 27 million birds a year to these pests.”

DoC boss Geoff Owen and his team closed tracks in the Dart, Routeburn and Caples Valleys for 24 hours on Friday morning.

Rangers then walked through the areas where the bait was dropped, throwing any errant pellets off the track.

Another sweep was done within 48 hours, and another will be done inside seven days.

DoC didn’t have to battle with protesters as none showed up, he says.

But due to snowfall two weeks ago, the tracks were in a “chaotic” state with fallen trees.

“I’m more than happy that we’ve done well, we’ve got it through and now we can move on to getting the tracks and huts into a state that we can enjoy.”

Owen says hut wardens are now in their respective huts for the Great Walks season, which opened on Tuesday, making the process of keeping tabs on the operation easier.

Signage will stay up for eight months in the area warning people of the 1080 presence.

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz