By Jenny Marcroft, New Zealand First spokesperson for Conservation.
OPINION: If you listen to talk radio then you will know that many New Zealanders are passionate in their views on the use of 1080 to control possums in our forests.
We used to run large-scale hunting and trapping programmes to wipe out pests and many people wonder whether it is feasible to return to the days of trapping possums to eradicate them, while at the same time creating an industry.
We know that hunters and other bush-goers are affected by 1080 drops. The silence of the birds and the evidence of agonising 1080 deaths has had a profound impact on many people who use our forests.
New Zealand First is committed to providing adequate resources for research and development into a replacement for 1080 and alternative predator control programmes in order to reduce the need for its use.
Only last week the Coalition Government announced the allocation of $19.5 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to help fund innovative programmes which include new and more effective traps, lures, remote sensing, surveillance and data management technologies.
This funding is the first step in our efforts to progress towards one day ending the use of 1080. It will see innovative predator control projects in the regions and represents a change in thinking.
Our Coalition Agreement with Labour also signals more support for the National Science Challenge which is now piloting replacements to 1080. They include the study of pheromones, rat genomics and control technologies.
Of course there is more to be done, and we will represent the strong views of our supporters.
I am proud of the work New Zealand First has done to bring us this far. We have voiced our perspective in Government and because of our staunch convictions the country will move towards a more well-rounded and future-proofed plan to protect our native birds.
I guess one day we will look back at our use of 1080 in the same way we look back now on the use of DDT.
There has got to be a better way and we are determined to find the solutions.
Jenny Marcroft is the New Zealand First spokesperson for Conservation.