Makarora's Blue Pools closes for mass 1080 drop

by Kim Bowden - Apr 26, 2024

Some popular visitor attractions on Department of Conservation land near Wānaka will be no-go areas this weekend as a poisoning operation targeting pest animals is underway.

The Blue Pools track will be impacted, with the carpark, immediate surrounding conservation land and the track entrance closed from 9am Friday until at least 11 am Sunday.

Track access to the Blue Pools themselves is already curtailed by the conservation agency's closure of two bridges on the route, however additional restrictions are now in place for the poisoning operation.

Also closed over the same time period this weekend is the Cameron Flat Campground, while the Siberia and Jumboland Airstrips will be out of action until at least 8am on Sunday.

In a statement advising of the operation, the Department of Conservation says it is weather dependent, and any weather delays could push closures out into Monday.

Helicopters will be dropping cereal pellets containing 1080 over approximately 36,000 hectares of land in the Makarora, Blue, Young, Siberia and Wilkin Valleys.

DOC says the operation is part of its National Predator Control Programme and is in response to high rat numbers resulting from a beech mast in 2023.

"These rodents seriously threaten the survival of the mohua populations in the area, and negatively impact other native species."

It says the vast and rugged terrain being targeted makes aerial distribution of poison the "only viable option".

"Helicopters will accurately distribute bait across 36,000 hectares of the forest along pre-determined and monitored flight paths."

The toxic pellets are also poisonous to humans, domestic and game animals.

"In areas where the toxin has been applied, dogs are highly at risk until poisoned carcasses have disintegrated. This takes four to eight months or longer," DOC says.

A detailed map of the application area can be viewed on the Pesticide Summaries website.

Main image (Pixabay): The Makarora River.

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