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Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has again let her ideology cloud her judgement by not upping the ante with more money for Predator Free 2050 in the Botched Budget, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“She’s missing a golden opportunity to eradicate possums, rats and stoats from the mainland by choosing to simply roll over existing funding for Predator Free 2050 rather than pumping money into community-led projects and biotechnology research that could be a game-changer.

“It shows how close-minded the Minister is given Department of Conservation officials have told her that biotechnology could provide a breakthrough alternative to 1080 poison.

“Predator Free 2050’s mandate includes looking at biotech as an option, but Ms Sage won’t allow this to be investigated. Her spending on Conservation is going to be wasted if she continues to ignore the advice of experts and community stakeholders, and keeps up her Minister-knows-best attitude.

“Recent studies have shown the number of native birds spotted in this country has dropped dramatically, which should be a wakeup call that Predator Free 2050 is immensely important.

“Generations to come deserve to see kiwi, takahē and kōkako in the wild, and if the Minister doesn’t take Predator Free 2050 seriously then this could be in jeopardy.”

“The programme was established by the previous National Government, with wide support for its ambition to achieve the seemingly impossible task of eradicating predators from mainland New Zealand.

“Schools, volunteers and businesses have been doing their bit to restore the dawn chorus of bird song in our forests and backyards with trapping initiatives. Now the Minister is wasting an opportunity to build on their work and progress further.”

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