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Greens want more cash for pest fight

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/05/2016

An almost $21 million budget boost to fight a a predicted boom in rats and stoats later this year does not go far enough, say the Greens.

The government will allocate $20.7m in this year's budget to fund a massive poisoning operation after another year of heavy beech forest seed fall.

The seed fall, known as a mast, has provided about one million tonnes of food for the pests and the poisoning operations should dent their populations before they start dining on native birds.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says early indications are that this year's mast will be comparable to 2014 which sparked the first Battle for our Birds operation.

The new operation will drop 1080 poison over more than 800,000ha and the drops will be backed by trapping and ground control programmes.

But Greens conservation spokesman Kevin Hague said more was required after cuts to the Department of Conservation's budget under National.

"The government should be putting a lot more resource into DOC to get pest populations under control. We risk losing our native species if it doesn't," he said.

Mr Hague said while the pest control money was welcomed, he feared other areas of DOC would have to make up the shortfall.

"The National government is great at talking up projects, but they come at the expense of other projects. Already DOC is struggling with continual cuts to its funding."

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