Approval process

Decisions about the importation and release of exotic organisms are made by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA, formerly the Environmental Risk Management Authority). The decision-making process is believed by many to be one of the best and most thorough in the world.

For more information see: Environmental Protection Agency > New organisms.

All species approved by EPA for introduction must initially come into a containment facility until permission to remove them is granted by MAF. This requires evidence of their correct identity and freedom from imported diseases.

Timeline of Events


  • November 2009: as part of public and iwi consultation, a workshop to brainstorm possible risks/costs/benefits of introducing dung beetles was held. Participants included people from Agrilink, the Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group, Plant & Food Research, AgResearch, Ngati Whatua Nga Rima o Kaipara, University of Auckland, and Landcare Research.


  • June 2010: an application by the Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group to release 11 species of dung beetles in New Zealand was lodged with the Environmental Risk Management Authority. This application was prepared with the assistance of Landcare Research. The application is advertised for public submissions.
  • October 2010: the period for public submissions ended. Some submissions are in support, some are opposed and others neither support nor oppose.
  • November 2010: Landcare Research responded to scientific issues raised in public submissions.
  • December 2010: ERMA held a public hearing at which there was debate about benefits and potential issues.


  • February 2011: ERMA gave approval for the release without controls of 11 species of dung beetles.  March 2011 the first two species (Euoniticellus fulvus, Onthophagus taurus) were imported into containment, followed by Geotrupes spiniger in June.
  • March 2011: further concerns raised by University of Auckland after the approval granted and appeal period closed.
  • April-November: these concerns were evaluated by EPA who affirmed their original decision that any adverse effects would be negligible.
  • June 2011: MAF gave permission to release the first three species from containment. Mass-rearing in enclosed facilities.
  • August 2011: Bubas bison imported into containment but failed to lay sufficient eggs for disease testing.
  • December 2011: pre-release research conducted by Landcare Research.


  • February 2012: Onthophagus gazella and O. binodis imported into containment.
  • May 2012: stakeholder Technical Advisory Group established and met to consider and advise the DBRSG on the best way to progress the project, so potential benefits can be maximised while taking into account the needs of all stakeholders and the need to protect the environment.
  • Sept 2012 – June 2013. Landcare Research conducts three trials that have been proposed by the TAG to answer any outstanding questions.


  • February 2013 – August 2013: The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) conducts an internationally peer reviewed human health risk assessment.
  • September 2013: The TAG meets to have presented and discuss the commissioned trials and public health review. The objective is to identify the next steps and present the meetings findings to the Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group (DBRSG). All the questions raised were adequately answered. The TAG recommended that beetle releases could proceed, and that a monitoring programme be put in place.
  • September 2013: The DBRSG committee meet to discuss the TAG findings. We are now working with our science provider, Landcare Research, to develop a release strategy, monitoring and on-going research programme. These details will be provided to the farming community as quickly as possible.
  • September 2013: The first release of 500 dung beetles (Onthophagus taurus and O. binodus) will take place on the 26th September on an organic dairy farm in Gore.
  • October 2013: The first North Island dung beetle release – Wairarapa. See video here.


  • February 2014: A total of 74 dung beetle releases have taken place across 7 regions from Northland to Southland.

Application Documents


Additional documentation:

For copies of other documents including the approval decision see:

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