Allegation of funding threat, Minister says comments ‘misconstrued’

In a select committee submission,Steve Glassey, founder of Animal Evac NZ, alleged that a Minister said that criticisms could threaten funding. The Minister, Damien O’Connor, says that his comments were misconstrued.

Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): Threat allegation – PM did not expect minsters’ behaviour

The threat allegation centres on last month’s fires in the Nelson district and it was made in a Parliamentary select committee by Steve Glassy.

The article repeatedly misspells Glassey’s name.

After initially being rejected Glassy and his team were invited back by MPI to do their stuff as things got worse.

As it is, his organisation wanted to work on the National Disaster Resilience Strategy to put in place a better system in the future.

MPI Minister Damien O’Connor had a word in his ear, in the presence of a volunteer, that he should be more positive about how the system was working and in the same breath is alleged to have talked about future funding.

As he was driving away, Glassy’s insistent O’Connor leaned out a passenger window and told him that “you can’t go riding us and then come to us for funding.”

O’Connor was quite up front about his conversation with Glassy but seemed to dig himself deeper into the hole he was trying to extract himself from.

He told the animal rescuer it’s really important to be positive “when we’re trying to negotiate a better deal with him.”

Jacinda Ardern said it was “absolutely not” the behaviour she’d expect of a minister and if evidence was provided she’d be open to seeing it.

The Country (NZH): Animal Evac NZ head Steve Glassey says MPI had no plan to look after animals during Nelson fire

The head of an animal evacuation charity which helped rescue pets and stock during the recent Nelson fires says a Government Minister threatened to pull its funding if he didn’t “play the game”.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor confirmed it was he who had spoken to Animal Evac NZ founder Steve Glassey but said the conversation was misconstrued.

Glassey today criticised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its response to the plight of animals stranded as people evacuated fire-hit areas during the Nelson fires earlier this year.

Glassey was making a submission to a committee of MPs today about the National Disaster Resilience Strategy.

“The Nelson fires repeated many of the major mistakes made in previous responses.

Despite the legal mandate for MPI to co-ordinate animal emergency plans, there was no animal management approved under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act in effect at the time of the fire,” Glassey told the governance and administration committee.

That may the more important aspect of this story, but the threat accusation has attracted more attention to it.

“We have had veiled threats from officials and even a Minister that if we continue to draw attention to such deficiencies, our chances of getting funding will be affected,” Glassey told the committee.

“Yet, this Government repeatedly says it’s prepared to be held to account.”

Asked by MPs what had been conveyed, Glassey said “basically, if we don’t play the game we won’t get funding”.

O’Connor confirmed to reporters he and Glassey had spoken but he made no such threat.

“Steve will always extrapolate things out. I said it’s really important to be positive when we’re trying to negotiate a better deal with him. I think Steve going around criticising MPI staff at every single opportunity when everyone is doing their best is not a very productive way forward.”

O’Connor said Glassey would misunderstand anything regardless of what was said.

That sounds like there could be some history in the relationship between O’Connor and Glassey.

He said Nelson was an emergency situation, Glassey had gone behind the cordon.

“He had created some chaos and some challenges for the police and for MPI. It wasn’t a very productive situation.”

So it seems to be more than aa bit of criticism that is causing friction.

MPI’s director of animal health and welfare Chris Rodwell said Animal Evac NZ was one of several agencies invited to help with the response to the fires, along with the SPCA, the Helping You Help Animals charity and Massey University’s veterinary emergency response team.

“Animal Evac does not receive funding from MPI, so there are no plans to cut funding. We look to find funding to support services in every response we are involved in, including this one,” Rodwell said in a statement.

Supporting agencies were advised that travel and accommodation costs would be picked up by the Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management group.

“It is up to them to seek reimbursement and we can facilitate this. In addition, charities involved are also able to apply to the mayoral fund,” Rodwell said.

Perhaps further clarification will be forthcoming.

Glassey had been closely involved with the SPCA for 30 years, but ‘stepped away’ in 2017 after two years heading the Wellington branch. See Research beckons Wellington SPCA chief as new structure rolled out

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?