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Cows die on farm after 1080 drop

The death of eight cows following a 1080 drop on a Waikato farm is being investigated by the Department of Conservation.

DOC said the animals had breached a fence line and entered a pest control area after a 1080 drop on September 6. In a press release the department said the issue of the fence had been raised with the farmer before the drop took place.

“During a pre-flight of the operational boundary a fortnight before the drop, DOC staff noted a breach in a fence line and spoke to the farmer about repairing it. No stock should ever be allowed within the pest control operational area.”

DOC operations director David Speirs said a review of the operational data shows the aerial drop went according to plan and as agreed with all adjacent landowners.

Samples were taken from the cows on September 10, the day after DOC was notified by voice message of the issue. It said results from the samples were due back shortly.

Doc said Mapara was home to a nationally important population of North Island Kōkako (recovering). NZ falcon (recovering) and North Island robin (at risk/declining) are also found in the reserve.

Beekeeper Daniel Le Feuvre who visited the farm after the poison drop said the cows were bloated and had blood coming from their eyes and mouths, which he said is typical of 1080 poisoned animals he has seen previously.

Le Feuvre has been prominent in 1080 discussions in the past and describes himself as in favour of pest control but concerned at the way 1080 has been used in the past.

He said the farmers told him they consented to the 1080 drop into bush but had been told there would be a 50-metre buffer zone in place. From his conversations with the farmers he believes DOC has “stuffed up” by dropping in the area.

“The Department of Conservation said they were going to be 50 metres into the bush.

"The bit of bush they have poisoned is one of his paddocks. It’s only 100 metres wide. They shouldn’t have dropped it, this is meant to be inaccessible area.”

According to Le Feuvre another cow also miscarried after the 1080 drop. He said DOC had brought a digger in to help bury the animals but he was concerned the digger was too small to dig deep enough holes for the cows.

Lawyer Sue Grey, who has been prominent in court cases involving 1080, is representing the farmer.

She told Newsroom today: "DoC aerially dropped 1080 poison on private pasture resulting in eight cows dying and two calves being spontaneously aborted.

"Prior to the drop the farmers moved the cows to a paddock nominated by DoC after DoC had checked the boundaries and confirmed that it was safe for the cows."

She said: "The contamination of private farm pastures with this deadly poison and the lack of care by DoC and its operators are extremely serious for this family but also for the security of the New Zealand food chain."

* This article has been updated at the request of the DOC to correct a date it incorrectly supplied to Newsroom.

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