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Wake up, Max! The moths are here

The Green Party welcomes a government initiative to get community help in hunting the Asian Gypsy Moth.

But the party wants bigger steps taken to ensure no further insect pests arrive in New Zealand.

Green Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street MP today praised the Agriculture Ministry's moth-hunt, which will see the public co-opted to help look for further evidence of moth colonies near Hamilton.

The ministry will give children in the district collector cards, including 'Hairy the Caterpillar', and 'Max the Beagle' ('the Sheriff who has the job of hunting the critters down').

"It is common sense to have more people out searching for moths, and there is no doubt the Asian Gypsy Moth is a devastating pest that must be eradicated," Mr Ewen-Street said.

"But all I can say is, Max must have been asleep on the job when the moth first slipped into the country.

"Max needs a clear directive to be more vigilant at the border.

"While it's fantastic to enlist the help of the public in seeking evidence of a pest invasion, it would make more sense and be more cost-effective in the longer-term to keep these pests out in the first place.

"The best solution overall is for the Government to tighten up biosecurity border controls, including by introducing 100 per cent inspection of incoming sea containers."

Mr Ewen-Street also asked where on earth Max was when the Painted Apple Moth (PAM) became established in West Auckland.

"The Agriculture Ministry did virtually nothing for 2½ years while PAM spread out of control, leading to blanket aerial spraying of West Auckland and health problems for hundreds of people.

"While Max is a community-friendly, nice-enough kind of poodle, maybe he really needs to be put down, and a more vigilant breed of border watchdog brought in," Mr Ewen-Street said.

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