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Published: 2002-10-29 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has launched a new freephone for animal and plant pest advice in the Waikato.

The number, 0800 BIOSECURITY (0800 246 732) connects people from all over the Waikato Region from Taupo to the Coromandel to their local Biosecurity Officer for direct assistance with both weed and animal pest problems.

The electronic system links where the call is made from to the right person, cutting out delays in calling Environment Waikato’s offices and having information passed on. Local Biosecurity Officers have a thorough knowledge of their areas and can provide advice and assistance over the phone, or visit the property in person.

The Council has eight contracted Biosecurity Officers in seven contract areas who are responsible for plant pest monitoring, surveillance, enforcement, limited control work and giving advice and information. Three other contractors deal with animal pest issues.

The instant redirection needs to be made on a land line - if callers are using a cell phone the system will not be able to divert the number and the call will be handled by Environment Waikato’s Hamilton office.

The Council gets hundreds of calls each year from people concerned about pests on their own or neighbour’s property and wanting advice. Often they need help in identifying a pest plant, information on how to get rid of it, or help and advice on dealing with animal, fish or bird pests.

Environment Waikato’s second Waikato Regional Pest Management Strategy (RPMS) has now been adopted. It details which plants and animals are declared pests and why, and outlines how each pest will be practically managed over the next five years. It also explains what people need to do to manage pests and what help they can get from Environment Waikato.

The RPMS names 85 plant pests banned from sale, display, distribution and propagation. The strategy also names 22 animal pests, including ‘new’ pests such as feral cats, koi carp and brown bull-headed catfish.

Environment Waikato is encouraging people with enquiries to use the Environment Waikato website as an information source.