Green differences over 1080

Groups and individuals have staunchly opposed the use of 1080 to control pests like possums and rats, but the Department of Conservation and conservation groups see it as an essential tool in protecting native species.

Some take extreme measures. RNZ: Loose nuts threaten DOC staff safety

There are fears for the safety of conservation workers and contractors after recent attacks on their vehicles.

In three instances wheel nuts on the vehicles were loosened in acts believed to be connected to protests over the Conservation Department’s use of 1080 poison for pest management.

In the most serious case a contractor avoided injury when a wheel came off while he was driving, after its nuts had been loosened.

DOC director-general Lou Sanson said toxic bait had been put in a staff letterbox and he had also seen other threatening posts on Facebook recently.

“Threats to put wires across gullies to bring down helicopters and a number of brochures put on DoC vehicles depicting targets of helicopters.”

He said it was extremely disappointing as DoC staff were working hard to try and preserve New Zealand’s native birds.

“Rats, stoats and possums have been winning. We know we can turn it around and we have.”

“Keas have made a great recovery in nearly 20 percent of the Southern Alps and there has also been an amazing recovery in kākā and mohua in South Westland.”

Mr Sanson said people had a right to protest but it had gone too far.

There seems to be a difference within the Green Party on this.

Newshub: National MP accuses Marama Davidson of undermining Conservation Minister

National MP Sarah Dowie says Marama Davidson has undermined fellow Green Party MP and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage with comments over 1080.

Ms Davidson said on Wednesday protesters who threw dead birds and fake pellets on the steps of parliament had “valid concerns”.

“We need to listen, and we need to have community-led conversations about this,” she told Stuff.

“They are trying to be heard, and we will need to keep listening.”

“There are some concerns about 1080 but it is the major tool we’ve got in the tool box to assist particularly in the more remote and mountainous areas,” Ms Sage told Stuff in June.

Ms Dowie said it was not a good look for the Greens to have two MPs apparently disagreeing about the poison.

“Ms Sage will be highly embarrassed by Marama Davidson’s comments to the anti-1080 lobby,” she said.

“She’s basically undermined Ms Sage’s efforts with respect to the protection of our biodiversity.”

Ms Dowie said the division may go even further, considering another governing party’s stance on the poison.

“New Zealand First actually campaigned on banning the use of 1080,” she said.

Both National and Labour say 1080 is the most effective pest control tool New Zealand has. They have the support of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, the Department of Conservation, the Environmental Protection Authority, and lobby groups including Forest and Bird, Federated Farmers, WWF and Ospri.

A tweet from ex-Green MP Kevin Hague yesterday:

 

There seems to be a clash between the environmental Greens and the activist Greens.

Lack of urgency on mass killing by poison

Maggy Wassilieff made a good point yesterday about the spate of deaths as a result of synthetic drug use:

Somebody is lacing dried plant material with lethal poison.

This person is a killer. Why aren’t they being hunted down by every cop/soldier in the country?

If we had a sniper/terrorist at loose who had killed 8 people and wounded numerous others in Auckland over the last month, the whole shebang would be in lockdown.

Why do I get the impression that it’s business as usual?

I presume the police are doing some sort of investigation into the source of these lethal drugs, and the suppliers of these lethal drugs. But I haven’t seen any sign of urgency or effort.

Compare this to a case that began in November 2014,when there was a threat to lace milk powder with 1080. This had major trade implications and proved costly financially, it was despicable, but no one was harmed let alone killed.

Stuff: The 1080 milk crisis, from beginning to end

Police have arrested a man almost a year after threats to poison baby milk formula prompted an investigation costing $3 million, and safety measures involving more than 150,000 batch tests on milk products.

The case began in November (2014), when Fonterra and Federated Farmers received 1080-laced packets of infant formula along with a threat to contaminate retail supplies unless the Government stopped using the pest control.

The public knew nothing of this until March 10, when Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general Scott Gallacher and deputy police commissioner Mike Clement explained the threat at a press conference.

“I’m confident the public will solve this,” Clement said.

Prime Minister John Key assured people infant formula was safe to drink: “We are advised it is extremely unlikely anyone could deliberately contaminate formula during the manufacturing process and there is no evidence that this has ever occurred.”

This eventually resulted in a conviction and a sentence of eight and a half years in prison.

1 News:  Lengthy jail term for 1080 milk threat a deterrent, says Fonterra boss

The eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence for the Auckland businessman who threatened to poison baby milk powder is a deterrent to others, Fonterra’s boss says.

Sixty-year-old Jeremy Kerr’s attempts to blackmail Fonterra and Federated Farmers cost the companies involved and taxpayers $37 million.

Prime Minister John Key says Kerr’s threats that could kill babies were “just despicable behaviour”.

And Fonterra Managing Director Maury Leyland says the idea of that happening is terrifying.

“And that’s why the sentencing, I think, denounces the crime and provides an appropriate deterrent,” said Ms Leyland outside the High Court in Auckland.

In the High Court in Auckland, Justice Geoffrey Venning said the potential impact on New Zealand’s trade relationships with China and other countries was extremely serious.

The police admit the investigation was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

It was a difficult case to solve but the police eventually got a result. It was costly in terms of dollars and threats to trade.

But in the current illegal drug trade a number of people have died, and it’s safe to assume that many more have suffered, A large number of lives have been ruined by drug concoctions that are deliberately made to be addictive, and they are pushed to vulnerable people.

What are the police doing about it? Where is the public assurances that everything possible is being done to protect people from this spate of poisoning?

Why aren’t politicians jumping up and down and demanding more be done?

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has been saying something: Govt ‘not satisfied’ with synthetic cannabis death handling

Mr Dunne said the first he knew about seven deaths linked to unidentified psychoactive substances this month was about an hour before police made the information public in a news release.

That number rose to eight yesterday when a man died after becoming ill from smoking synthetic cannabis.

Mr Dunne was satisfied with the detection work police were doing to track down who was selling and distributing the drugs, which can contain a range of different and sometimes unknown chemicals.

“I’m not satisfied, though, with the information that’s being shared,” Mr Dunne told Morning Report.

“That information had obviously been known to police and the coronial officials for some time. I don’t think it’s reasonable that the government wasn’t made aware of that until virtually the last minute.”

The government was now coordinating a response from police, district health boards and Ministry of Health officials – something that could have been done earlier with better communication, he said.

Dunne has been left fronting for the government on serious drug issues again.

Where are the other MPs on this? Ducking for cover it seems.

Mr Dunne agreed that more liberal laws for natural cannabis could help.

“But there are two big problems in this issue – one’s called National and one’s called Labour,” he said.

“Both the major parties have consistently ruled out any change in this area.”

Because it’s just drug users (and isn’t a threat to business?) this doesn’t appear to be much of a concern to other parties.

NZ Herald: Drug deaths don’t warrant Government response – Prime Minister Bill English

English rejected suggestions that an urgent Government-level response was required this afternoon, instead saying that people needed to avoid illegal substances and show more personal responsibility.

Speaking at his weekly press conference this afternoon, English said he had asked for advice on any possible responses to the fatalities.

“[The advice] falls into two categories. It is an illegal drug, it has to be policed, and we are not the police force.

“But the most important thing here … is that people do not take these illegal substances that can kill them.

“That sense of personal responsibility is pretty critical to staying alive. They need to decide they are not going to take these drugs”.

I guess babies and their parents could have been educated about the risks of taking milk powder – close to zero risk in reality.

Green Party health spokeswoman Julie-Anne Genter…

…said she was “extremely shocked and upset” at the absence of any Government plan or response to the drug-related deaths and injuries.

She said that in the short term the police should at least create a special unit to deal with the synthetic cannabis issue. Drug-checking facilities should also be made legal and resourced, she said.

In the medium term, Genter said legalising cannabis would create a “safe alternative” and lower the risk of black market-related drug deaths – a move English flatly rejected today.

Stuff: Police, coroner investigating multiple synthetic cannabis deaths: ‘further people are going to die’

“If we don’t do something about this, further people are going to die,” Detective Inspector Gary Lendrum said at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

“We’ve got reports of 13-year-olds right through to 64-year-olds using this product, so it’s right across New Zealand, and right across society.”

Labour leader Andrew Little said the reports were “incredibly disturbing”.

“I know police are saying they’re going to conduct an investigation – the Minister of Health has got to be involved in that. We’ve got to understand what’s happened there.

“It throws open the whole issue about the ability to regulate in this area and people’s safety with a substance that is constantly changing. It may well be time, even though it’s been a reasonably short period of time, for Parliament to review and revisit just what it has done in relation to synthetic cannabis.”

So politicians are expressing some concern, but there is no sign of real pressure to do something about the situation on drug supply and use and legality.

Eight people have died. Many more are at risk. This is a crisis, urgency and a lot more jumping up and down and demanding action is surely justified.

The number of deaths in a short time is out of the ordinary but deaths and the wrecking of lives has been going on for a long time.

When big business and foreign trade was at stake there seemed to be more concern.

Drug addicts don’t seem to matter as much to our Parliament.

However the costs are actually high. Illicit drugs cost lives, this is not new. There are substantial costs to society and to taxpayers through policing and the courts and prisons and the health system. Drug abuse impacts on individuals and families and work productivity.

Poisoning by drugs has a massive human and financial cost.

After eight deaths in a short period of time surely our politicians should be motivated to do much more than make noises and then go back to kicking the cannabis can down the road.

All parties should be doing more.

But in particular Bill English and National have to step up. For too long they have left Peter Dunne to cop all the flak on drug problems and copped out of responsibility themselves, but the fact is that Dunne has done much more than any other MP to try and promote change in the way we deal with drug supply and abuse. Dunne has only one vote against National’s 59, and Parliament’s 120.

If there was ever a time for a Prime Minister to step up on an issue surely eight deaths is enough to prompt some leadership.

1080 and Protecting Paradise

Probably like most people I’d prefer poisons weren’t needed or used. But I use rodent poison, because rat and mice infestations make a mess, and a cat or two isn’t enough to keep them away.

The same applies to 1080.  I’d prefer it wasn’t used but the alternative, not using it, is worse.

New Zealand uses about 90% of the world supply of 1080. On the surface this sounds bad for us, but there’s a good explanation. 1080 is only effective against mammals, and much less toxic to birds, reptiles, insects, amphibians and other creatures.

Unlike just about every other country New Zealand has hardly any native mammals (a few bats) so a poison targeting mammals (especially rodents, ferrets, stoats and possums) can be a very effective way of tipping the balance back towards native species.

Deer can be affected by 1080, so it’s use annoys deer hunters.

1080 is a salt so disappears into the ecosystem very quickly.

This and more is explained in a Herald interview 1080: Finding the facts in a poisonous issue with science writer Dave Hansford, who has just published a book, Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the fight to save New Zealand’s wildlife. Potton & Burton, RRP $34.99

…I’d been writing about pest control off and on for 15 years, and it became ever-more frustrating that the same old myths and misinformation about 1080 just kept on orbiting the national conversation.

They’re all so easily debunked…

I went to the Coromandel to witness a 1080 operation for myself.

I spent a few days afterwards combing the bush looking for all the death and destruction – the slaughter of native birds etc – that activists insist happens after every drop.

I never found evidence of any, despite going off-track with a GPS and conducting long grid searches and bird call counts at different locations.

Toxicity

One look at the toxicology studies tells you that’s untrue: some kinds of animals are more sensitive to 1080 than others.

It’s highly toxic to mammals, and unfortunately, dogs are the most acutely susceptible.

Birds are much less so.

Some invertebrates appear to be quite sensitive to 1080, depending on circumstances, while others – like worms – seem not to be bothered at all.

The same with aquatic invertebrates.

Reptiles are very resilient to 1080, as are fish – and the Cawthron trout research proved that – and it’s practically impossible to kill amphibians.

Water dilution

Some people also worry about what 1080 does once it lands in water.

The answer to that is that it begins to dilute, very quickly – it’s a salt, after all.

So much so that water testing generally has to be done within eight hours – and ideally sooner – if it’s to find any meaningful traces at all.

Out of more than 3000 tests from waterways in 25 years, just four have found any trace of 1080 in municipal supplies, and they were all tiny fractions of Ministry of Health permissible levels.

Suited to New Zealand

There’s a good reason we use so much: every other country has native mammals it can’t risk harming with poisons, while, except for three types of bat, all our mammals are introduced pests, so 1080 might have been designed from the ground up for New Zealand use.

1080 is known to kill deer, so some hunters consider that it’s impinging on their sport.

There is no myth about 1080 that hasn’t been comprehensively debunked many times over.

The effects of 1080

I wrote it for those people who are still undecided, or conflicted about 1080, but who prefer to form their positions on the strength of evidence.

I think the most effective advocacy of all is success: look at Abel Tasman National Park, where Project Janszoon has shown very clearly, that, if you get the pest off their backs, our birds, and snails, and lizards and insects just thrive.

People saw there that the sky didn’t fall in when the Park got 1080 in 2014: but what they did see were kaka, and robins, and kakariki returned to the park.

They saw the giant snails rebound in numbers.

They heard the bellbirds.

While 1080 won’t enable the Government goal of predator free by 2050, but it is very useful in keeping control of predator numbers while other solutions are found. And it seems to be relatively safe.

In the end, the decision is very simple: we can have our forests full of native wildlife, or we can have them full of rats, stoats, possums and cats.

Birdsong, or silence.

This is why Forest & Bird support the use of 1080 – see 1080 Frequently Asked Questions

Damien O’Connor – 1080 idiot

One News reports Labour’s Damien O’Connor – Why haven’t police found 1080 ‘idiot’?, asks Labour.

The person threatening to poison baby milk formula isn’t necessarily an idiot, they are extremely irresponsible criminals.

O’Connor is the idiot.

Labour’s primary industries spokesman Damien O’Connor says police should by now “absolutely” have found the “idiot who did this”.

“I cannot understand why the police don’t have more leads in this area,” he says.

What does O’Connor suggest the police do, get the GCSB to spy on every New Zealander to try and track them down?

I don’t understand why O’Connor doesn’t have more clues in this area.

Mr O’Connor says that security will have to stay in place indefinitely, unless an arrest is made.

“I think the reality is that our food system has to be guaranteed,” he says.

The police can’t guarantee any system. There’s no way they can stop every nutter in the country from making threats or doing stupid things.

It might be inaccurate calling O’Connor a 1080 idiot, but on this he’s close to a 100% idiot.

The 1080 threats are serious, far more so than for a half baked politician to bollocks the police for no apparent reason that makes any sense..

‘More 1080’ madness

It seems madness promoting more use of the poison 1080. It serves an important purpose but should be replaced as soon as possible.

The Commissioner for the Environment has called for more use of 1080, claiming it is ‘safe’. One News reports in Call for more 1080 ‘absolutely unbelievable’:

Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright yesterday slammed the current 1080 scheme as “inadequate”, saying the chemical is safe, effective and that alternative methods are not as good.

Every year, 3500 tonnes of 1080 poison is distributed across the country to kill pests like possums, stoats and rats.

It is widely acknowledged that 1080 is near essential in controlling pests, but it is a necessary evil that should be reduced as much and as quickly as possible.

Not surprisingly there has been opposition to the call for more 1080 use.

Kate Winters from the protest group 1080 National Network told TV ONE’s Breakfast that increasing the use of the poison to control pests is a step in the wrong direction.

“I find it absolutely unbelievable that she (the commissioner) is advocating more use of 1080 in a country that claims itself to be clean and green,” Ms Winters said.

“We should really be looking at banning it, and reducing the use until it is eventually banned, hopefully in 2020.”

Ms Winters does not deny that 1080 is effective but says a lack of knowledge makes it dangerous.

“We know it’s a killer, what we don’t know is what it does and what low doses do to our native species, to our environment and humans.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne sides with this view and with the Department of Conservation.

Mr Dunne says he supports DOC’s efforts to find alternatives to 1080.“I think the Parliamentary Commissioner is being short sighted.

“Very few people argue that 1080 is the ideal solution, and there have been constant calls over the years for more research to be done into viable alternatives.

“DOC has under strong criticism from many recreational groups for what was seen as too rigid an approach to 1080 – now when it is doing much more at looking at viable alternatives, it gets criticised by the Parliamentary Commissioner for not being rigid enough!

“In my view, DOC has got the balance about right.

“Of course, we must protect the conservation estate in particular from unwelcome predators – no-one seriously questions that – but as New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to still use 1080, we must also be constantly looking at alternatives,” he says.

Mr Dunne says the Parliamentary Commissioner’s 2001 and 2013 reports show a “blinkered” approach which “detracts from the impartiality of her office.”

Mr Dunne is calling on the Parliamentary Commissioner to work with DOC on a balanced approach to the use of 1080 and alternatives, rather than to keep attacking its efforts.

United Future had supported groups wanting to ban 1080 leading up to the last election, but now accept that 1080 needs to be phased out while alternatives are phased in.

Putting more effort into finding alternatives to 1080 should be a high priority. New Zealand uses about 80% of the world supply of the poison.