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A decision by the High Court today confirming the legality of national pest control regulations is a significant win for the survival of New Zealand’s native birds, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The science is clear that the only way birds like kiwi, kokako, kea and kaka will survive is to effectively control pests like stoats, rats and possums that have decimated their populations. We need to appreciate that 25 million native birds are killed each year by these predators, and get serious about controlling them,” Dr Smith says.

The High Court decision was in response to a legal challenge by the Brook Valley Community Group in Nelson to the pest control operation planned this winter by the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary, and to the legality of the national regulations introduced by Dr Smith as Environment Minister earlier this year.

“This is a huge win for the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust. They have toiled for 15 years, raising more than $5 million and spending thousands of hours volunteering to realise their vision of providing a safe haven for our native birds. It is a tribute to their determination and detailed work that the High Court has concluded their plan is consistent with the demanding requirements of the Resource Management Act for the protection of the environment and public health.

“This High Court decision is a significant win for conservation nationally. I acknowledge the support in the proceedings of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and the advocacy for the national regulations by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. It confirms that New Zealanders can have a high degree of confidence in the safeguards on the use of poisons like 1080 and brodifacoum, and the evidence on which their use is based.

“My hope is that the Brook Valley Community Group, having had a fair hearing in the High Court and having put the Sanctuary Trust, taxpayers and the ratepayers of Nelson to considerable expense, will accept the decision and enable the pest control operation to proceed as planned.

“This issue fundamentally comes down to a choice between whether we want stoats, rats and possums or kiwi, kaka and tui in Nelson’s backyard. We need to back the Sanctuary Trust and its vision for this nationally significant haven for New Zealand’s iconic birds.”

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