Predator control, 1080 and Green refusal to allow GE science

The Provincial Growth Fund seems to be in part a fund for whatever policies Shane Jones wants to promote. And so it seems with a predator control announcement.

But funding for innovative new means of control seems to be suffering, with Jones and NZ First wanting to move away from use of 1080 use , but the Greens refusing to allow research that has anything to do with genetic modification.

Newsroom:  Political dead rat a win for 1080 protesters?

Tired of being harangued by anti-1080 campaigners, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones is welcoming a $19.5 million Provincial Growth Fund investment to be spent on the development of new predator control tools and techniques as alternatives to the pesticide.

The funding will be used by Crown-owned Predator Free 2050 to encourage research and development of new tools, as well as to contract predator control projects for rural and forested land.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said it would help “stimulate rapid innovation” hopefully resulting in more effective traps, lures, remote sensing, surveillance and data management technologies. The Government hopes these new innovative techniques will reduce the need for 1080 to maintain predator-free status in areas where predators have been eradicated.

Sage was keen to emphasise that the Government was not backing down on 1080, but looking for innovative alternatives to use in addition to the pesticide, which has been the focus of nationwide protests, marches and the reported abuse of DOC staff.

However, comments by Shane Jones, and posts on the New Zealand First Facebook page, may give heart to anti-1080 campaigners that their protests have swayed the Government’s coalition partner – even though the funding of new pest-control technology is something that has long had all-party support.

On Facebook, the party is promoting the investment, with posts reading: “We’re doing our best to render 1080 redundant. New Zealand First has maintained its opposition to 1080 and that with adequate resources, research and development into alternatives, we can replace it.”

Northland is home to many of the anti-1080 protesters, as well as to Jones.

There seems to be conflicts between Greens and Jones on the us of 1080.

But what are the realistic alternatives to 1080?

Newshub:  Govt blocking breakthrough technology that could make New Zealand predator-free

There’s a major roadblock within the Beehive over the role genetic engineering (GE) could play in a predator-free New Zealand by 2050.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has stopped any and all work being done to use GE technology, despite official advice suggesting it could be used to help rid New Zealand of predators.

But Ms Sage told Newshub she is not interested in going down the GE “rabbit hole”.

“We want to focus on existing tools, making them better and finding new tools without being diverted down the potential rabbit hole of GE research.”

Officials have signalled GE could be an effective alternative to 1080.

“It could be efficient and much more cost-effective method of pest control than conventional approaches.

“For potential application to replace knockdown tools such as aerial 1080, they would be most effective for short generation pests such as rodents, and less effective for longer generation pests such as stoats and possums, due to their requirement to spread over generations.”

Despite that, Ms Sage penned a Letter of Expectation to Predator Free 2050 Limited, explicitly telling the company not to invest in research into the technology.

The letter:

Newshub’s also obtained a number of emails written by the minister that reveal her personal position on the technology.

In one email, she wrote: “Please be assured that the department is clear about my expectations regarding genetic technologies. It has informed me that there is no mammalian gene drive technology research currently occurring in New Zealand.

“I have also required Predator Free 2050 Ltd to carry out appropriate due diligence on any co-funded projects before agreeing on any contracts, and have explicitly required them not to be involved in any research with genetically modified organisms and technologies such as CRISPR or gene editing.”

In another email, the minister made a similar comment: “I have been clear about my expectations regarding such technologies.”

Official advice also said the technology has the potential to control pests “in a humane and efficient manner without inadvertently harming other species like native birds”.

But Ms Sage told Newshub the Government isn’t blocking work in the area, there’s just been no decision to advance any discussion in the area.

“There’s no public mandate to do any work in that space – it would be a major change in Government policy.”

So is it Government policy that any research into predator control involving genetic modification is banned?

National’s conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie said the Government is refusing to look into the potential benefits because it’s blinded by ideology.

“I think she’s been captured by her ideology, [and] that’s not a good thing,” Ms Dowie said.

“National’s all about the science. We think good science should inform conservation policy, and if we want our children to experience kiwi, tui, takahe in the wild – because that’s a New Zealand legacy – we need to have these conversations and make a decision moving forward.

It seems that while Greens are in Government science is limited to what fits within their rigid ideologies, which includes a staunch anti-GE stance.

Genetic modification is also contentious as a potential means of reducing carbon emissions.

SPCA criticised for anti-1080 ‘news’ article

The SPCA has been under fire for supporting anti-1080 protests.They say that “the welfare of all animals should be viewed equally” p- which includes pests like stoats, rats and possums that many people and organisations are trying to get rid of. 1080 is a major tool in reducing pest numbers, especially in remote parts of the country where trapping and other labour intensive methods aren’t practical.

The SPCA advises on ways of campaigning against the use of 1080.

On their website:  1080 – what is it, and what can be done about it?

Is SPCA against 1080?

SPCA is against the use of poisons to kill animals due to the level of suffering they cause, as well as the nature of their use. We would like to see a ban on the use of poisons such as 1080, because these substances cause such intense and prolonged suffering to animals that we believe their use can never be justified.

There should be greater emphasis on looking for solutions that would enable species who cannot be completely removed, to co-exist in the environment instead. SPCA also encourages the research and development of humane alternatives to species control, including the replacement of lethal methods with humane non-lethal methods, such as limiting reproductive abilities.

What does SPCA think about ‘pests’ in New Zealand?

Although SPCA does not regard the lives of one species over another, we do recognise that there is a concern regarding the impact of so-called ‘pest’ animals. Sometimes it is necessary to capture certain animals or manage populations of species for various reasons, including biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability.

In these instances, methods that are proven to be humane and effective should be used. The welfare of all animals should be viewed equally, and people should recognise that they deserve protection from suffering pain or distress, regardless of the species or where they came from. Whether an animal is native or introduced, any measures taken to manage their impact or numbers must recognize that these animals are sentient and have the capacity to experience pain, suffering, or distress, regardless of whether they are viewed or classed as a ‘pest.’

What has SPCA done to ban the use of 1080?

SPCA are deeply concerned over the use of 1080 and other poisons and are working hard to achieve positive change. As a charity, SPCA has limited resources, but the use of 1080 and other poisons is a priority for us as an organisation. SPCA are working wherever we can to change the law, publicly speaking out against the use of 1080 wherever possible.

Why can’t SPCA Inspectors stop 1080?

SPCA’s Inspectorate are bound by New Zealand’s current laws specified in the Animal Welfare Act 1999, which unfortunately allow for the use of 1080 under a permit system and within permitted drop-zones. Therefore, if a poison is used to kill an animal and meets requirements, there is currently no legal course of action SPCA Inspectors can take. This is because no offences have technically been committed, even though the poison has likely caused the suffering, pain and distress to the animal.

What can I do to ban the use of 1080?

There are many things you as a member of the public can do to help end the use of 1080, including:

1.You can sign or create a petition to the government:Once a petition is closed a member of parliament must be asked to present the petition to parliament. This may be your local MP but does not have to be. Once presented in the House of Representatives, the petition will be considered by a select committee. At this point it may become open for submissions, allowing individuals to give their feedback in more detail.

2.You can sign up to MPI and NZ Government to receive alerts when select committees are accepting submissions: The more people who voice their opposition to 1080 use via submissions when opportunities arise, the more likely that the government will be to reassess the approach. You can sign up to receive alerts by following the link: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/subscribe-to-mpi/

3.You can make your voice heard by meeting with or writing letters to members of parliament: It is particularly powerful to meet with government representatives in person, or at least to talk to them on the phone.

Hopefully, if enough people and organisations make their voice heard in opposition to the use of inhumane ‘pest’ control methods such as the use of poisons, the law will be changed and will no longer allow the legally sanctioned inhumane treatment of ‘pests’.

(Edited)

Forest and Bird responded:  SPCA 1080 position will lead to cruel deaths and extinctions

Forest & Bird says the SPCA’s statement calling for 1080 to be banned shows a naïve failure to understand how nature works in the wild, and they will be seeking a meeting with the organisation to discuss its position.

Forest & Bird CE Kevin Hague says “The SPCA’s statement on the use of 1080 is seriously misinformed, and contains errors of both fact and logic. Their position reflects their history of caring for domesticated animals such as cats and dogs, without understanding the needs of New Zealand’s native animals and ecosystems.

“While the idea of stoats and rats peacefully coexisting with native birds sounds great, the reality is that an estimated 25 million native birds, eggs, and chicks are cruelly eaten alive by introduced predators every year in New Zealand.

“This is the terrible death that countless native animals across New Zealand suffer every night.

“The SPCA’s position on 1080 is a blow to their credibility. It’s sad to see them promoting flawed logic whose outcome is the extinction through being eaten alive of treasured animals like our kiwi, kereru, and kokako.

“Without scientific, ethical, and precision pest control, of which 1080 is a key tool, there is no way to protect our native animals from the overwhelming numbers of introduced predators. Giving up 1080 would lead to an ecocide of huge proportions in New Zealand, and the SPCA need to understand this is the outcome of their pest control position.”

RNZ: SPCA criticised over article supporting 1080 ban

SPCA chief scientific officer Anya Dale…

… has clarified the organisation’s position.

“The SPCA’s position is that all poison’s cause prolonged and intense suffering to animals, both native and non-native, and as such it is very difficult to justify so it’s important to note that the SPCA is not opposed to the management of animal species, provided that it’s justified and humane and we absolutely support the innovation into alternatives to the use of poisons to manage species in New Zealand.”

When questioned over whether this meant the organisation wanted 1080 to be banned, Dr Dale reiterated the above statement.

She said that there needed to be more investment in alternatives.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague…

…said that trapping was not a viable alternative.

“Anyone who is involved in trapping understands that trapping alone simply cannot cover the extent of the country that we need to be able to cover to control these pests. What it shows is they have a level of naivety around what’s required to protect our native animals and birds.”

OSPRI, the partnership organisation between primary industries and the government that is tasked with eradicating TB…

…agreed that alternatives to 1080 did not exist.

OSPRI’s research and development manager Richard Curtis said it budgets $2 million a year for research, of which half a million is for projects looking at alternatives or reductions to 1080.

He said there were two main pest-control research projects that the organisation had been working on but both of them would still poison the animal.

Mr Curtis said that biological alternatives were researched in the ’90s but found to have a low-likelihood of effectiveness.

“Biological alternatives are actually very complex and frequently don’t work… so at the moment we’re not investing in that space.”

TVNZ:  SPCA, Forest and Bird butt heads over call for 1080 ban – ‘a blow to their credibility’
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage…

…has supported the use of 1080, saying last month that it is a “critical tool” in the fight against species which damage the environment and attack native species.

In 2017-18, $4.8 million was provided for 1080 alternative research, and that investment increased to over $7 million in 2018-19.

“The best alternative at the moment is trapping, which is already used extensively across New Zealand,” Ms Sage said in Parliament in December.

“The Government is supporting a range of research into different compounds, including things like PAPP, which is very effective for stoats; things like sodium nitrate; microencapsulated zinc phosphate paste; and also into traps like self-resetting traps,” Ms Sage said.

When asked if she supported or saw a future for alternatives to 1080, Ms Sage said “absolutely”.

“Aerial 1080 continues to be a critical tool if we are to prevent the regional extinction of kākā, kiwi, and species like that, but alternative research is well under way.”

The welfare of pests like stoats, rats and possums versus the survival of native species?

Effectiveness of 1080 proven

I have seen the results locally of the effectiveness of 1080 (alongside trapping) – far fewer possums, and noticeably more bird life.

Protesters go to sometimes extreme lengths (including death threats and threats of life threatening sabotage), but largely discredit themselves and fail to discredit the science surrounding 1080 and it’s use.

The Press editorial: Science beats superstition in the 1080 debate

New Zealand’s anti-1080 activists have not had a good year. A protest in September delivered a disastrous own goal when an autopsy revealed none of the native birds dramatically dumped on the steps of Parliament by protesters were killed in a 1080 drop. Causes of death included being struck by cars, hitting windows and, in the sad case of a weka, being shot, possibly with a .22 rifle.

The co-organiser of the Hikoi of a Poisoned Nation claims he was told by a scientist who had kept birds in a freezer for four years that 1080 was the cause of death. Whether the deceit was accidental or intended, it reflects poorly on a controversial movement that was already in the news over death threats made to the prime minister and to Department of Conservation (DOC) staff.

The anti-1080 movement has been dealt yet another blow this week with the release by DOC and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of numbers that show the overwhelming effectiveness of 1080 as a tool to combat possums, stoats and other pests that are ravaging the New Zealand environment.

DOC released figures on Wednesday following 1080 drops in Russell Forest and Rakaumangamanga/Cape Brett in Northland.

Using tracking tunnels to measure rat numbers, DOC found rats left tracks in 76 per cent of the 160 tunnels in Russell Forest before the aerial 1080 drop and in only one tunnel after the drop. Possum numbers at the same location fell from 79 per cent before the drop to 16 per cent.

At Rakaumangamanga/Cape Brett, rat numbers fell from 14 per cent to zero, mice from 17 per cent to zero and possums from 34.3 per cent to 4 per cent.

Impressive results.

The EPA’s summary of 1080 use across the country in 2017 also appeared this week. More than 875,000 hectares were treated, with the majority controlled by DOC and the remainder by TBfree and Timberland. The report describes a pest control regime that has also had a positive effect.

While native birds are the headline act, with yellowhead (mohua), blue duck (whio), kea, kākā, rock wren, south island robin, morepork (ruru), grey warbler, New Zealand falcon (kārearea) and kiwi all identified as improving, the 1080 drops also benefit long-tailed bats and plant species such as fuchsia, tōtara and kāmahi, along with domestic cattle and deer stock.

One of the reasons for using 1080 is to reduce the spread of bovine TB by possums (that’s what initiated the possum  control program in the West Harbour area that I live in.

But there is a darker side to the beliefs held by some in the anti-1080 camp. Not only do they spread misinformation and conspiracy theories and issue death threats, they have also risked the safety of 1080 operations and those who run them.

It was revealed this week a helicopter used for a 1080 drop in Northland in September was sabotaged, spilling 2000 litres of aviation fuel, which Forest and Bird say could have drained into nearby streams. That would have been an ironic side-effect for a movement that has agitated so noisily against the use of poisons.

Opponents of 1080 are a greater risk than 1080 is.

As for the environmental side effects, the tolerable exposure limit was not exceeded in any of the water catchment tests following the 1080 operations.

When it comes to the use of 1080 in New Zealand, science has won the war against superstition and fake news.

Benefits of 1080 use far outweigh any risks. In particular native birds and bats as well as native trees and bush benefit.

 

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.