The long-running dispute over a planned rodent eradication program on Lord Howe Island appears no closer to resolution.
First mooted about a decade ago, island residents have formed a concerned citizens group while the board charged with the responsibility of governing the island also appears split on the matter.
A spokesperson for the Lord Howe Island board says the proposed rodent eradication program is aimed at eliminating invasive rats and mice from Lord Howe Island to protect its unique flora and fauna and support its World Heritage status and visitor economy.
But that goes to the very heart of the residents' concerns. They say the dumping of some 42 tonnes of rat poison pellets onto the island using helicopters endangers non-target species.
Long time resident Rodney Thompson says the board has not taken enough scientific information into account prior to making their decision.
"The board does not appear to be listening to any advice not supporting the program of rodent eradication," he said.
"A number of leaseholders on the island have signed letters advising they have not signed an agreement to implement this program.
"There are real concerns being raised about how this system of helicopter baiting will affect non-target species.
"It is irresponsible in our view, and environmental vandalism."
Mr Thompson said he believes the decision is based on economics rather than environmentally sound science.
He has called on the board to consider the protection of the island's biodiversity.
Lord Howe Island relies on its reputation for pristine environment and World Heritage to attract tourists, he said.
"Dropping tonnes of a poison that will cause widespread deaths in non-target species is counter-productive and puts at risk the World Heritage environment on the island.
"And don't forget about the human well being factor and safety too," he added.
At its meeting in September 2017, the board voted to proceed to implementation of the project. However in March 2018 the board voted to delay implementation of the rodent eradication program until winter 2019 as it had not yet received a new permit from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
The spokesperson said the board had assured the community that the program would not proceed without all necessary safeguards and regulatory approvals in place.
"Last month the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority granted a Minor Use Permit for the use of rodenticide as part of the Lord Howe Island rodent eradication program," the spokesperson said.
Last month the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority granted a Minor Use Permit for the use of rodenticide as part of the Lord Howe Island rodent eradication program.Lord Howe Island board
Fifth generation island resident and Mr Thompson's niece, Bonny Thompson acknowledged there is a rodent problem on the island.
She says the board should increase regular baiting program.
"Residents would support a baiting program that is based on the use of bait stations," she said.
"Any baiting program should be in the best interests of Lord Howe Island and not just the cheapest option.
"We want the island to be rodent-free but not at the risk of the island's wildlife and water source.
"Lord Howe Island is home to some of the rarest species including the Woodhen.
"The board's proposed method of rodent eradication would upset the balance of the island," she said.
The current rodent control baiting program remains in place to control the rodent population.
Rodents were accidentally introduced to Lord Howe Island. Mice arrived around 1860 and rats came to the island as a result of a shipwreck in 1918.
Rodent numbers fluctuate depending on the seasons and it is difficult to give an accurate estimate of numbers, the board spokesperson said.