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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Hamilton's Poisonous Parks

As a mum and a dog owner, the presence of poison heralded as DEADLY in the parks, gullies and walkways that we frequent is a cause for concern.    I have noticed that in many places the signage appears to be staying up indefinitely and  it's a right pain to not know if somewhere has or has not had poison laid. I wondered:  is this how this signage (and poisoning programme) is meant to work?

As the signs make clear, these pesticides are Dangerous substances.  According to the Hamilton City Council website, the information on which leaves something to be desired (more later), the pesticides being used are:
  • NO Possums - Cholecalciferol Gel bait
  • Maki Block - Bromadiolone with Bitrex
  • Final All-Weather Blox - Brodifacoum
These poisons target possums, rats and mice, none of which I am found of and all of which I agree need pest control. 

The relevant requirements of the regulations with respect to signage in the Hazardous Substances (Classes 6, 8 and 9 Controls) Regulations 2001 can be found in clause 28 and include:
  • signs to be erected at "every normal point of entry to the place where the substance is to applied or laid" (cl 28 (2))
  • Signs must "state the date on which the substance is to be applied or laid" (cl 28 (3)(c))
  • The sign must stay in place until the poison is removed or destroyed or rendered non-hazardous by the passage of time (cl 28(4))
The implication of clause 28 (4) to the ordinary reader may be that the sign is to be removed after that point in time.  However, I am unconvinced that the regulation imparts a legal obligation to uplift the sign.

I do not accept that writing an indeterminate period of time (indicating that poison will be there forever) complies with the requirement of clause 28(3)(c), which specifically stipulates a date of application/laying to be notified.

The Hazardous Substances (Identification) Regulations 2001 sets out in detail many minimum requirements relating to signage, the most relevant of which is a requirement that the no part of the sign is permitted to wear away.  Writing information on and having it wear away is not acceptable, although I've seen this heaps on signs in DOC reserves!

So, every pest control sign is required to display the date upon which poison was laid.  Many around Hamilton do not.

I have asked some questions of the Environmental Protection Authority, the entity charged with regulating this area, relating to signage and I'll post the response when I get it.

The Hamilton City Council webpage on pest control in parks accessed today (12 May 2015) advises the public of pest control taking place in "June".  That's not much help for someone going for a walk today, to be honest.  It begs the question of June ...  in which year?  How long has it been since this site was updated?  I have asked HCC these questions and will post their response. 

Many of the parks listed are those at which I have noticed permanent blank signage.

One last (but certainly not least) consideration is that many of these poisoned sites adjoin (or may in fact overlap with - it's hard to determine the exact area of pest control) dog off leash exercise areas.  Given that the poisoned animals may travel some distance before death and that these carcasses may be deadly to dogs, this is a real concern.  These parks include:
  • Tills Lookout
  • Pukete Farm
  • Resthills Park
  • Tahaura Park
Could a poisoned rat or possum cross the road from Donny Park to Day's Park before expiring?

Feel free to comment on your experiences or to post your own pictures of non-compliant signage.  I'll keep you posted on my enquiries with HCC and the EPA.

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