WET JACKET PENINSULAS, FIORDLAND, AERIAL 1080 POISON DROP STARTS – WEEP FOR THE KEA!
By Carol Sawyer
“So, here they are again and this time DoC have done a wee conjuring trick and say it is for stoats (there being no rats). Stoats don’t eat 1080 baits.”
“We have an estimated 1,000 Kea left in the wild in New Zealand….. in the whole world in fact, as they are endemic – i.e.they exist only here! The latest 1080 poison drop in the Matukituki Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park, February 2020, killed 50% of the Kea. More than that will die in the Wet Jacket Peninsulas drop because it is midwinter and the Kea are very hungry.”
Do you know what happens to 1080-poisoned Kea? They stagger around taking hours and hours to die. They bury their heads in the snow to try and get relief from the pain. Dr.Jo Pollard says “The keas’ deaths will be horrific, with extreme muscular spasms going on for many hours.” David Attenborough called them the most intelligent bird in the world. They are the world’s only alpine parrot.
Three BK-117 helicopters – ZK-IME (a.k.a Big Red the Rescue Helicopter), ZK-HJK,(white), and ZK-HEM, (red and white), and a Longranger, all belonging to HeliOtago Ltd, left Dunedin at 6.30 pm this evening heading west to be in place for starting their evil work tomorrow morning. Seven choppers arrived at Monowai tonight… yet to find out if they are all HeliOtago Ltd or if three are from another company. I have been told HeliOtago Ltd flew the prefeed baits from a private farm property at Monowai, last weekend.
This area has never before been poisoned. The drop was planned for last October but there were NO rats so it was postponed and, I am told, the poison that had been brought south for the drop was instead used in the Kepler Mountains drop last March, which was squeezed in just before lockdown…. I’m informed they added on the Princess Mountains to use all the extra poison up. No monitoring done there apparently.
So, here they are again and this time DoC have done a wee conjuring trick and say it is for stoats (there being no rats). Stoats don’t eat 1080 baits.
I can tell you what it WILL kill in large numbers… Kea. As the area has never before been poisoned there are many Kea reported to be in the area. (A while back a pilot sent me a photo of seven Kea that landed beside him when he touched down there.)
We have an estimated 1,000 Kea left in the wild in New Zealand….. in the whole world in fact, as they are endemic – i.e.they exist only here! The latest 1080 poison drop in the Matukituki Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park, February 2020, killed 50% of the Kea. More than that will die in the Wet Jacket Peninsulas drop because it is midwinter and the Kea are very hungry.
The Empire of the Dept of Conservation, greedy helicopter companies, and all their parasitic acolytes WILL fall… but it will be too late for the Kea.
Any of you gutless DoC employees reading this who put your personal livelihoods before your knowledge of this travesty and the horror it entails, and keep your mouths shut pleading “I can’t afford to lose my job”… hang your heads in shame why don’t you! You know who you are!
Ditto the local media who know about this drop and are too scared to touch it and tell the truth. You know who you are too.
Peter Shadie Director, IUCN World Heritage Programme IUCN World Headquarters Rue Mauverney 28 1196 Gland Switzerland email: email@example.com
11 June 2020
Dear Mr Shadie
Re: Government poisoning of World Heritage sites in New Zealand – Open letter
I am writing to bring your attention to the serious issue of the New Zealand Government’s aerial poisoning of a World Heritage site and hope that you will urgently contact the World Heritage Committee so they may act on this matter. The 40,000 ha Wet Jacket area is to be aerially poisoned this month under contract to the government’s Department of Conservation (DoC). This poisoning is not justified as the appropriate scientific or technical measure necessary for the conservation of this site, and would breach New Zealand’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention.
The contractor’s application to DoC (attached) to poison the Wet Jacket area describes a hotspot of biodiversity, home to at least 17 species of endangered birds as well as 25 other species of birds. Six species of lizard have been recorded including the rare Fiordland skink. The invertebrate fauna is described as “not fully explored” and “distinctive and important” (Contract Wild Animal Control, 2019).
The 1080 poison to be used is broad spectrum, affecting organisms that breathe oxygen (ERMA, 2007). It is added to cereal food baits and distributed from hoppers carried beneath helicopters. The distribution process creates fragments (Morgan et al. 2015) and dust (Wright et al., 2002). Native lizards, birds and invertebrates are all known to feed on the cereal bait (ERMA 2007). The poison is highly toxic, readily contaminates despite stringent precautions, travels rapidly in water and up food chains, causes reproductive defects across a vast range of species and has highly variable effects which remain poorly understood, with studies being sparse and of poor quality (ERMA, 2007).
Due to poor monitoring, effects of 1080 poisoning on populations of most NZ native animals are unknown (ERMA, 2007; Whiting-O’Keefe & Whiting-O’Keefe, 2007). Only six species of birds were reported as reliably monitored through 1080 drops. Of those, fernbirds suffered most with an estimated 9% loss of the local population per poisoning (Fairweather et al., 2015). Kea have also been intensively monitored, with the finding that on average 12% of birds are killed per operation (DoC, 2016).
The Application to poison the Wet Jacket area shows significant shortcomings, as follow.
The reason given for poisoning the Wet Jacket area is to “protect the health and integrity of the flora and fauna susceptible to predation by rats, stoats and possums.” It lists animal species it considers particularly in need of protection: bats, kiwi, parakeets, kea and fiordland crested penguins.
These claims of susceptibility are not referenced or supported by scientific observations. In fact, it was concluded twice that predation was not a problem to kea (Jackson, 1969; Elliot & Kemp, 1999). Short-tailed bats were considered relatively safe from predators, being fast and agile, fiercely mobbing intruders and choosing winter roosts that were inaccessible (Lloyd et al., 2005). “Evidence” of predation of long tailed bats was just an observed association between low bat survival and high rat numbers (Pryde et al 2005; O’Donnell et al., 2011). Doc has attributed failures of some of its invasively monitored bird nests to predators, however they are not representative of undisturbed nests (Ellenberg et al., 2015).
Known costs left out of the Application include negative ecological effects from aerial poisoning. In many cases, rat numbers rebound to vast new heights within months (Innes et al., 1995; 2010; Powlesland et al., 1999; Ruscoe et al. 2008; Sweetapple et al., 2006). This effect can decimate prey such as invertebrates (Sweetapple & Nugent, 2007). Re-poisoning of rats is likely to become less and less effective due to the rats learning and developing physical tolerance (Byrom et al., 2013; Mitel, 2016; Pollard, 2016). Thus the Eglinton Valley (also in World Heritage site Fiordland National Park) has just received its fourth aerial poisoning in five years (2014, 2016, 2019, 2020). Despite increasing the intensity of the poisoning for rats in September 2019 (DoC, 2019a) another poisoning was carried out this May.
Mouse numbers usually increase soon after aerial poisoning (Innes et al., 1995; Sweetapple & Nugent, 2007, Ruscoe et al., 2008). The increases in rodents during the months after poisoning create ideal conditions to for stoats to flourish (Byrom et al., 2013). In addition, stoats that survived aerial poisoning were found to switch from eating rats to eating native birds (Murphy et al., 1988).
The Application contains no discussion of the conservation importance of the loss of kea, with previous studies indicating a 12% loss of local birds is expected. DoC claims that kea in remote areas are unlikely to get poisoned, however 9% of marked birds were killed by 1080 in an area chosen by DoC to represent remoteness (Kemp et al., 2016 unpublished). The total number of wild kea left is unknown and possibly less than 1000 ((Bond & Diamond, 1992; Harper, 2012; Roy, 2016).
Issues not addressed
Important issues left out of the Application include how much bait will enter the marine area; what effects there will be of baits, fragments and dust in the littoral zone (e.g. on penguins) and in the productive areas of shallow, still water; what will the effects be of the predicted “zero grazing ungulates” (being the last large grazing animals left); what are the chances of cold weather killing off rats in winter if they are left unpoisoned; should a highly diverse, unexplored ecological community be poisoned to try to make it better; what will be done if pest animal numbers are low, without poisoning.
DoC has a strong track record in misleading, pro-poisoning behaviour. It intrudes on nesting birds, attaches equipment to them and their nests, blames predators for nesting failures, then uses the poor nesting results to justify predator control (e.g. for kea (Kemp et al., 2014, unpublished), mohua (Elliott 1996), kiwi (Waterworth, 2019) and kaka (Moorhouse et al., 2003)). It quotes increased “nesting success” as an indication of a bird population’s positive response to poisoning, but nesting success is likely to increase if a population is culled (Nilsson 1984; Arcese & Smith 1988). “Five minute bird counts” are used by DoC to assess bird numbers. This method is notoriously unreliable (Westbrooke & Powlesland 2005; ERMA 2007; Green & Pryde 2012; Hartley 2012), due to major problems such as bird calls increasing after poisoning as birds try to find their dead partners and family, or search for new company.
DoC’s pro-poisoning bias and lack of scientific honesty are also apparent in its publications. For example a stoat plague that followed DoC’s aerial poisoning at Okarito (Kemp et al., 2015, unpublished) was truncated from the published graph (Kemp et al., 2017), despite this being an important outcome. In another example, in a study on bats after a 1080 operation, the contents of one bat roost tree had spilled onto open ground. Inspection revealed a baby bat with placenta attached, which tested positive for 1080. Other roosts in the study were inspected for dead and dying bats by roost camera “where practical” (Edmonds & Pryde, 2015). The published paper has a re-worded section of the original report that now insinuates all roosts were searched equally for dead babies (Edmonds et al., 2017).
The claim that some Eglinton Valley birds are prospering due to DoC’s 1080 poisoning (Minister of Conservation’s media release 11/4/20) is impossible to make: poison in bait stations and trapping are used to try to control mammals in the Eglinton Valley and any separate effects of 1080 cannot be assessed. Mohua (including some from the Wet Jacket area) were restocked there in 2010, 2015 and 2017.
Due to low rodent densities the Wet Jacket area poisoning was postponed in October 2019 (DoC, 2019c). The poisoning has since been promoted in the media as being needed to kill stoats, on the unscientific basis that local, heavily monitored kiwi chicks haven’t been surviving (Waterworth, 2020). These locally monitored kiwi weren’t even mentioned in the Application. There may be a very low stoat kill rate if there is a lack of poisoned rats for them to eat. If the poisoning proceeds regardless of low pest numbers, this will not be unusual. Makarora was poisoned in 2017 for rats despite low numbers (data accessed 22/3/17 via Official Information Act request); poisoning of Arthurs Pass in 2019 went ahead with no rats (data accessed 8/10/19) (mice were present but 1080 pellets are not usually eaten by mice (Fisher & Airey, 2009).
A fraction of the resources being used to poison the Wet Jacket area could support careful, scientific studies of the biodiversity and ecology of the area before a management plan is decided upon. Where populations of rare organisms are considered in immediate danger, localised, benign management can be applied, such as tree banding and caging, and protecting nesting kiwi and kea from DoC staff.
I trust you will act to prevent the unfounded wholesale poisoning of this precious site.
Dr Joanna Pollard (BSc (Hons), PhD)
See the IUCN reply to Dr Pollard below references.
Arcese, P., Smith, J.M., 1988. Effects of population density and supplemental food on reproduction in song sparrows. Journal of Animal Ecology 57: 119-136.
Bond, A., Diamond, J., 1992. Population estimates of Kea in Arthur’s Pass National Park. Notornis 39: 151-160.
Byrom, A., Banks, P., Dickman, C. & Pech, R., 2013. Will reinvasion stymie large-scale eradication of invasive mammals in New Zealand? Kararehe Kino 21: 6-7.
Contract Wild Animal Control, 2019b. Completed DoC Application form for predator control in the Wet Jacket Area. 34 pp.
DoC, 2016. Aerial 1080 in kea habitat. Code of Practice. NZ Department of Conservation Unclassified document. 24 pp.
DoC, 2019a. Application for DoC permission to use vertebrate VTAs assessment report: Clinton and Eglinton catchments. 11 pp.
Edmonds, H., Pryde, M., 2015. Eglinton Valley lesser short-tailed bat monitoring programme 2014/2015. DOCDM 1568082 15 pp.
Edmonds, H., Pryde, M., O’Donnell, C., 2017. Survival of PIT-tagged lesser short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) through an aerial 1080 pest control. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 17: 186-192.
Ellenberg, U., Edwards, E., Mattern, T., Hiscock, J.A., Wilson, R. & Edmonds, H., 2015. Assessing the impact of nest searches on breeding birds – a case study on Fiordland crested penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus). New Zealand Journal of Ecology 39: 231-244.
Elliott, G., Kemp, J., 1999. Conservation ecology of kea (Nestor notabilis). WWF-NZ Final Report 1 August 1999, 64 pp.
Hartley, LJ 2012. Five-minute bird counts in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36: 268-278.
Innes, J., Kelly, D., Overton, J., Gilles, C. 2010. Predation and other factors currently limiting New Zealand forest birds. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 34: 86-114.
Innes, J., Warburton, B., Williams, D., Speed, H., Bradfield, P. 1995. Large-scale poisoning of ship rats (Rattus rattus) in indigenous forests of the North Island, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 19: 5-17.
Jackson, J.R., 1969. What do keas die of? Notornis 16: 33-44.
Kemp, J., Orr-Walker, T., Elliott, G., Adams, N., Fraser, J., Roberts, L., Mosen, C., Amey, J., Barrett, B., Makan, T., 2014, unpublished. Benefits to kea (Nestor notabilis) populations from invasive mammal control via aerial 1080 baiting. Department of Conservation. 29 pp.
Kemp, J., Cunninghame, F., Barrett, B., Makan, T., Fraser, J., Mosen, C., 2015, unpublished. Effect of an aerial 1080 operation on the productivity of the kea (Nestor notabilis) in a West Coast rimu forest. Department of Conservation report. 15 pp.
Kemp, J., Hunter, C., Mosen, C., Elliott, G., 2016, unpublished. Draft: Kea population responses to aerial 1080 treatment in South Island landscapes. Department of Conservation, 14 pp.
Kemp, J., Mosen, C., Elliott, G., Hunter, C., 2018. Effects of the aerial application of 1080 to control pest mammals on kea reproductive success, New Zealand Journal of Ecology 42: 158-168.
King, 1984. Immigrant Killers. Introduced Predators and the conservation of birds in New Zealand. Oxford University Press.
Moorhouse, R., Greene, T., Dilks, P., Powlesland, R., Moran, L., Taylor, G., Jones, A., Knegtmans, J., Wills, D., Pryde, M., Fraser, I., August, A., August, C. 2003: Control of introduced mammalian predators improves kaka Nestor meridionalis breeding success: reversing the decline of a threatened New Zealand parrot. Biological Conservation 110: 33–44.
Morgan, D., Hickling, G. 2000. Techniques Used for Poisoning Possums, in TL Montague (ed. The brushtail possum: biology, impact and management, Manaaki Whenua Press, Lincoln, pp. 143-153.
Murphy, E., Clapperton, B., Bradfield, P., Speed, H. 1998. Effects of rat-poisoning on abundance and diet of mustelids in New Zealand podocarp forests. NZ J Zoology 25: 315-328.
Nilsson, S.G., 1984. The evolution of nest-site selection among hole-nesting birds: The importance of nest predation and competition. Ornis Scandinavica 15: 167-175.
Pollard. J.C., 2016. Aerial 1080 poisoning in New Zealand: Reasons for concern.
Powlesland, R., Knegtmans, J., Marshall, I. 1999. Costs and benefits of aerial 1080 possum control operations using carrot baits to North Island Robins (Petroica australis longipes), Pureora Forest Park. NZ J Ecology 23: 149-159.
Roy, E.A., 2016. New Zealand kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, faces extinction
Westbrooke, I.M., Powlesland, R.G., 2005. Comparison of impact between carrot and cereal 1080 baits on tomtits (Petroica macrocephala). New Zealand Journal of Ecology 29: 143-147.
Whiting O’Keefe, P., Whiting-O’Keefe, Q., Aerial monofluoroactate in New Zealand’s forests. An appraisal of the scientific evidence. 89 pp.
Wright, G., Booth, L., Morriss, G., Potts, M., Brown, L., Eason, C. 2002. Assessing potential environmental contamination from compound 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) in bait dust during possum control operations. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Science 45: 57-65.
4) Nelson Lakes National Park, Lake Rotoiti, Mt Robert and the headwaters of Lake Rotoroa, 34,000 hectares (notified by VCS Marlborough, July 1 to August 31, but not yet poisoned)
5) Mt Te Kinga forests, Lake Brunner, West Coast, 3,700 hectares, (notified, RNZ news item 29 May, but not yet poisoned)
6) Punakaiki, West Coast, 43,000 hectares (notified by VCS Greymouth, but not yet poisoned)
7) Buller South, West Coast ( Paparoa Range as well as foothills and Pakihi terraces between the Buller River and Four Mile Road south of Charleston), 18,500 hectares (notified, OSPRI, July 2020)
8) Radiant Range and Mokihinui, West Coast, 72,460 hectares ( notified, OSPRI, July 2020)
TOTAL HECTARES (including Waitutu) = 390,000 hectares and 780 tonnes of 1080 poison baits.
How could I have been so wrong?! I seriously thought a pandemic and its ensuing economic chaos would put an end to aerial 1080 poison. I thought the government might have a last blast but this is something else. Jacinda’s Labour Government has turned 1080 poisoning and trapping into a make-work scheme. The only income this scheme makes is from the TAXPAYER!!!
I think the only thing that will end aerial 1080 poison and this mad desire to kill everything introduced into our forests will be nuclear war.
Photo – Lake Brunner, West Coast, South Island from ‘100% Pure New Zealand’, 🤣,Tourism NZ
Did he see the writing on the wall? Below is a letter I wrote to him a month ago.
May 28, 2020 is the anniversary of the explosion in the Bromley, Christchurch, warehouse leased by PCR Ltd, where PCR Ltd/Kiwicare Corp Ltd was illegally making pure 1080… without a resource consent… inside a shipping container!! The building remains so contaminated that the Fire Service will not allow their officers to enter if there is a fire… yet there is no warning signage on this building in a VERY public place, surrounded by other businesses and next to a privately owned aquatic centre.
Work Safe NZ said it would take them a year to complete their investigations. We await their findings with bated breath. The West Coast Regional Council, (49% owner of the 1080 bait factory) has invested over $2 million of their ratepayers’ money in this factory. There are only 10,000 ratepayers. The building remains highly contaminated and dangerous. Even if the WCRC has public liability insurance, that will not protect them when criminal activities have taken place. I do hope that insurance company has woken up!
The whole story, for anyone who has not seen it, is in the links below. This has all been hidden behind a veil of silence… from FENZ, ESR, Work Safe NZ, Environment Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, West Coast regional Council, Dept of Conservation, and PCR Ltd itself. The media have not touched it.
Meanwhile, Michael Meehan is scampering off to another well-paid job … before the investigation results are announced.
I sent this letter below to him nearly a month ago. I copied in all West Coast Regional councillors. No-one responded or even acknowledged receipt, not even Michael Meehan who was the addressee, but I have since spoken to a councillor and so I know they all received it.
“Apr 21, 2020, 8:11 PM
Dear Michael Meehan,
Below is a story that was posted on social media on 21 March, 2020. I would be interested to hear your comments please.
I understand from the real estate agent who arranged the lease on Unit 1, 56 Wickham St, Bromley that it is leased on a month by month basis and, as it would appear it has still not been decontaminated and still contains toxic chemicals, obviously it can not be used. I gather the lease is $21,995 per annum plus GST, which presumably means PCR Ltd has paid out over $22,000 in the past 11 months for an unused building.
What steps has Pest Control Research Ltd taken to start the decontamination process and why are there no hazardous chemical warning signs on the building?
It appears the other tenants have NOT been notified of this state of affairs. Unit 2 was leased out relatively recently to a painter (flammable materials next door, in other words) and I’m told he was not made aware of the situation with regard to Unit 1.
The owner of the joinery business, in Unit 3, was also unaware of the true situation.
I’m told Unit 4 is occupied by XXXXXXX, the son of the building’s owner. I do not know whether he knows the true situation or not.
Do you, in your role as CEO of the 49% shareholder, the West Coast Regional Council, and as a Director of Pest Control Research Ltd, feel you have a duty of care to these innocent people ?
I did a short followup story the other day, as I was sent photos of the Bromley warehouse taken on 17 April, 2020 which made it obvious that still nothing has been done about this building. Link here:
I wonder if all the Councillors are aware just how deadly this stuff is ?
Let’s just take the sodium monofluoroacetate (1080). This is the 100% pure form manufactured without resource consent at Bromley, (not the 0.15% contained in a 1080 bait):
Based on fatal or near-fatal cases of human poisonings, the dangerous dose (LD50) for humans is 0.5-2.0 mg per kg of bodyweight. (Negherbon 1959).
This means that just 35 mg can kill a 70 kg person. That means that ONE STANDARD (5 GM) TEASPOON OF PURE 1080 CAN KILL 70 x 70KG PEOPLE …..and make another 70 people very ill. (The LD50 is the dose required to kill 50% of people who ingest it. It doesn’t mean the other 50% get off scot free!)
Anyway, I would be grateful if you could answer the above two questions about decontamination and duty of care and I am interested in your comments on the Bromley situation. My interest in this is that I am appalled that such a dangerously contaminated building, one that even fire officers are forbidden to enter, has sat there for nearly a year without the neighbours (immediate and otherwise) being informed of the dangers, and with no warning signage on the building at all.
Thanks to the GrafBoys once again for their brilliant research & tireless work in exposing the dangers of 1080 poison. Visit their TV Wild website for more of their work. Particularly, a must watch is their award winning doco called Poisoning Paradise.
Canterbury University toxicologist, Professor Ian Shaw, discusses the toxicity of 1080 poison, and also the mysterious mis-diagnosis of the three family members from Putaruru who were reportedly poisoned by botulism …
I was sent recently a NZ Herald article about NZ’s Dept of Conservation (DoC) teaming up with Ngāti Porou to protect the Raukumara Forest Park:
“Iwi including Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Te Ehutu, Ngāi Tai, Whakatōhea and Te Aitanga-ā-Mahaki, and affiliated hapū, have occupied and continued to maintain mana whenua on all flanks of the ranges.
DoC, which administers the park, was working on a co-ordinated approach regarding its management.
The last large-scale possum control operation was 20 years ago involving aerial application of 1080 pesticide. The region was free of tuberculosis (TB), which was partly why there had been little 1080 focus. There had also been strong local opposition.”
On reading the article I was reminded of Reihana Robinson’s well researched book on 1080 use in NZ called ‘The Killing Nation’. In brief she describes what she terms DoC’s ‘take a Māori into the bush’ strategy outlined in a Landcare Research paper by Chrys Horn & Margaret Kilvington titled ‘Maori and 1080’. The paper investigates how to gain iwi ‘agreement’ to use 1080. It’s about ‘building trust’ they write as ‘research is, by itself, not sufficient to allay community & iwi concerns.’
They are clearly aware and acknowledge that ‘Iwi concerns are substantial’ citing ‘loss of native birds, poisoning of deer and dogs, the potential effect on water supplies and human health, and how poison disturbs spiritual principles.’
The authors, says Robinson, “focus on mind control. They don’t call it mind control. They use the term ‘perceived control’ and it is this underlying psychological construct that must be communicated to ‘help’ Maori communities adapt to change and adversity”. How to get agreement on the use of 1080? … don’t focus on the merits of 1080, convince them of the “merits of pest control or eradicating Tb”.
Robinson describes Horn & Kilvington’s ‘paternalistic clanger’ … “that ‘it is the element of choice that is important rather than the quality of the options’.” They proceed to cite examples where local iwi agreed to 1080 without public outcry … ie ‘how to sell poison to Maori communities’.
Horn & Kilvington then stoop to the ultimate tactic of LYING by claiming there IS an antidote to 1080 poisoning. Patently untrue says Robinson.
Yes we environmentalists know that there is no antidote to 1080. That’s not rocket science at all.
“At a time when communities are increasingly negative about the use of 1080, time and resources must be allowed for consultation processes” say Horn & Kilvington. They are concerned that DoC staff do not “recognise the difference between information and consultation”.
(Note, environmentalists who have attended these consultation meetings will concur that the people with genuine concerns are not heard and the meetings are steered by the person at the front to effectively exclude them & to achieve a predetermined desired outcome. This manipulative method is called the Delphi technique, a method used also by councils when they ‘consult’ with you, see below the article).*
Proceeding to the main point here … Robinson describes “the critical role of Urewera Maori within DoC disclosed in the Landcare paper”… “DoC tried to give ‘all the community groups involved a high level of perceived control over the possibility of aerial drops in the area’.
So DoC transported Maori into the Uruwera bush to show “damage caused by possums” and their effect on “birdlife”. DoC’s ‘take a Maori into the bush’ strategy did not work on Moehau in 2013.’ The lunches and the helicopter tours failed as described …
…then DoC went ahead & dropped the poison anyway.
Are you getting the gist now of DoC’s ‘consultation’ and what it really means?
I am going to add a pdf file here of this particular chapter of Robinson’s book so you can read it for yourself. (She did give me permission to quote and to reproduce the chapter for your perusal). Perhaps you may be interested to purchase her book to read the entire scope of concern environmentalists both Maori & Pakeha alike have about the use of this Class 1A Ecotoxin in NZ’s environment. And about how DoC ‘get around’ Māori opposition and the need to consult.
Here is a link to the pdf of the chapter by Reihana Robinson:
A Massey University post mortem has found six kea in the Matukituki Valley of the Aspiring National Park ”are likely” to have died from 1080 toxin.
The birds were among the 12 kea monitored by the Kea Conservation Trust after the Department of Conservation’s aerial 1080 predator control operation on February 11.
DOC threats director Amber Bill said in a statement today it was ”regretful” to lose any kea to 1080.
”But overall, aerial predator control is proven to benefit kea populations.
”It’s upsetting and disappointing to lose six kea but we are confident with effective control of rats and stoats we will significantly boost nesting success and the number of young birds entering the population.
”We are concerned the tracked kea may have learnt to eat human food around the tramping huts, making them more likely to try 1080 cereal bait.
”DOC’s extensive research of kea through aerial 1080 operations show the risk of 1080 to kea in remote areas is very low but increases markedly with birds that have learnt to scrounge for human food.”
Ms Bill said the Matukituki operation followed DOC’s best practice to mitigate risks to kea from 1080 and ensure they benefited from stoat control after last year’s extreme forest mast or seeding.
”We are constantly working to improve our risk mitigation standards for kea, which are informed by our ongoing research programme.
”In light of this incident, we will be investing more to explore potential additional measures that DOC can take to reduce the risk to kea in future 1080 predator control operations.”
Ms Bill said DOC was considering a campaign to discourage people from feeding kea and prevent kea from learning to scrounge.
“Kea are super smart and present unique conservation challenges.
”We need to continue to learn and assess all options to protect this national taonga from predators and other threats.”
Recent rodent monitoring results from the Matukituki showed rats had been reduced from damaging levels – present in 47% of tracking tunnels – to being undetectable – 0% of tracking tunnels -, following the 1080 operation.
Stoat monitoring was underway.
The Matukituki programme was designed to protect rock wren, kea and whio, as well as kākāriki, kākā, and South Island robin following a beech mast-fueled rat and stoat plague.
Ms Bill said DOC was monitoring whio and rock wren to track how these species were doing.
The dead birds were three adult males, one adult female, one juvenile male and one juvenile female.
In 1979 scientist Eric Spurr warned that wide scale poisoning of New Zealand with compound 1080, intended to kill introduced mammals, was actually killing kea and many other animals. It took decades before NZ’s Department of Conservation (DoC) finally began to monitor kea deaths from 1080 poisoning.
Now, using DoC’s own data, we can estimate that each poisoning operation will kill an average 12% of kea.
During the most horrific example DoC managed to kill 78% of the tracked kea population (7 of 9 kea monitored at North Okarito). Last month, in the Matukituki Valley, 50% of DoC’s monitored kea died after a 1080 drop.
Disturbingly, two myths have again been rolled out in an attempt to soothe public anger over the destruction of these now rare, iconic birds.
Myth 1. Kea are only likely to eat baits if people have conditioned them through providing food previously. DoC’s own research shows that this is not true. 9% of monitored kea (2/22) died at Kahurangi, a site chosen by DoC precisely because of its remoteness.
The fallacy of this claim is clear to anyone with experience of kea. They are curious to examine and pull anything new apart – as motorists will often attest after even the briefest of encounters with these inquisitive creatures. Scientists consider that this trait is likely an adaptation to living in a harsh environment, where food can be very hard to find, especially in winter (when 50% or more of kea juveniles are likely to die of starvation). Before the advent of DoC, helicopters and a toxin designed to kill everything from microbes to mammals, a willingness to try a new food source undoubtedly played a key role in the birds’ survival.
Myth 2. Kea nests need protection from stoats and 1080 poison provides that protection. Two studies have shown that the presence of stoats does not bother kea (in 1969, then again in 1999). Even if stoats were a problem for kea, 1080 would not fix the situation, quite the reverse. Scientists found that stoats became more likely to eat birds after 1080 drops. Why? Because rats, a primary source of food for the stoats, have been almost wiped out.
Mice do not usually eat 1080 baits so, in the absence of hungry rats, their numbers boom in the aftermath of a 1080 drop – a fact easily established by a review of the literature. Rat numbers, usually low immediately after 1080 operations, rebound strongly within months – often peaking at figures far higher than were present pre-drop. The population booms of mice and rats that are caused by 1080 drops are never highlighted by DoC, although they are easily seen in many studies. Those booms are likely to fuel stoat plagues as a new generation of mustelids arrives to find a larder overflowing with rodents.
Journalist Dave Hansford last year made the dubious claim that because of the “benefit” of 1080 to kea breeding, up to 22% of kea could die before there would be a net loss (Spinoff, August 2019). A 50% death rate would surely be tragic then, even to a journalist with an extreme pro-1080 bias!
Nature lovers should be very concerned because the monitoring of kea throughout 1080 drops is unique. No other native species: microbe, plant, insect or bird has been given even a tiny fraction of the attention or resources that have been used to monitor kea. 1080 is broad spectrum, highly toxic, spreads rapidly, travels up food chains, binds to cellulose and has extreme, unexpected effects. What is happening to everything else that lives in our forests, wetlands, grasslands and mountain tarns?
1080 poison may have a dual function for DoC. Not only does it attract an enormous amount of government funding, its use may help divert concern away from other ways in which vital habitat is being lost through poor management and financial interests. Examples are DoC’s approving high quotas for tourist helicopter flights (80 per day were planned for the remote Darran mountains) and the continued mining of conservation land (despite government promises to curb it).
The public needs to wake up to the fact there is no “science” behind DoC’s aerial poisoning. Mast-driven rodent plagues, often used to justify aerial poisoning, have been around since the time of the kiore. They are part of a general, short term increase in productivity including bird breeding. Effects are not something DoC needs to try to control with aerial poison, it should follow the evidence and stop blindly interfering in a process that it is simply not equipped to control.
Healthy populations of native birds, such as mohua and kakariki, lived in many places around the South Island until DoC started “helping” them by interfering with nests and trapping out the main rat predator (stoats). Rat numbers escalated, bird numbers plummeted, then broad spectrum 1080 poison was applied.
DoC’s science-less management shows a complete lack of respect for NZ’s ecological heritage and the legal mandate it holds to conserve it. Kea, much loved and admired, seem destined for the same fate as other species that have suffered from DoC’s “helping hand”. DoC needs to leave them and everything else alone, now.
DoC of course are blaming the feeding of kea, do read the information from Dr Jo Pollardto put that one to rest. EWR
from the Otago Daily Times
There are thought to be between 1,000 and 5,000 of the alpine parrots left in New Zealand, and the Kea Conservation Trust says it’s seen a fall in the population in the South Island’s Hawdon Valley in recent years. “When you go up into the mountains, the numbers are really concerning,” volunteer Mark Brabyn tells Stuff.co.nz. “We don’t want to wait until there is only a couple of hundred left to do something.”
Kea are known for their trusting nature around humans, often approaching passers by and happily gobbling up junk food. But that’s part of the problem. Gorging on ice cream and chips left over by hikers – or sometimes fed directly to the birds – can end up killing them. Stoats are another major threat, destroying all six kea nests in the area last year with no chicks surviving, Mr Brabyn says.
The government has previously admitted that the controversial poison 1080, which is dropped from the air to kill predators, is also responsible for killing some kea. Studies are being carried out to determine whether the poison is an overall help or hindrance to the birds.
The Kea Conservation Trust is now trying to crowdfund a mobile app to track kea with the public’s help. Anyone who encounters a tagged bird would be able to input its tag number to learn more about that individual, log its location, condition and behaviour, and even upload photos. “It would give us such valuable information about numbers and how far they were travelling, and would raise awareness about the bird. People would be connecting and caring,” Mr Brabyn says.
As far as predators go, New Zealand’s government wants to rid the whole country of stoats, rats and possums by 2050, saying these non-native animals kill 25 million native birds each year. But the kea’s inquisitive nature can make even well-meaning pest control efforts difficult.
In February, seven of the birds died after breaking into stoat traps to get at the egg and meat bait inside, prompting the Department of Conservation to modify 700 traps to make them kea-proof. Current research into traps involves stoat anal glands, which presumably won’t attract curious birds.
“Our little piece of paradise was ruined for ever”
Introduction: On yesterday’s ‘AM Show’, the usual garbage about people opposed to 1080 was spouted by Duncan Garner and Mark Richardson. (Go to ‘The AM Show Catch-Up’, 9 March, 2020 – and fast forward to 2 hours, 25 minutes.) According to them, anti-1080 people are a ‘loud, ignorant, uneducated group” of “extremists”. Amanda Gillies said there may be some issues with 1080 but she didn’t think it was “the devil incarnate”. However Amanda was not strident and fixed in her views than the other two, so Jeff Patchett of Brightwater, Nelson wrote her a letter. Here it is:
I am writing to you specifically because I respect you and your values. You have a compassionate heart.
I have always been a fan of The A.M. Show until Duncan Garner suggested Willie Apiata take some of the anti-1080 people into the bush and deal with them. I was absolutely appalled at these comments. My family here in Blenheim lost five men in the First World War (1914 Blenheim population approx. 2000). My Dad and uncle both served in WW2. Dad had an especially torrid time, as he fought at Monte Casino, one of the War’s most horrific battles. For Garner to say that he wished Willie would use some of his special skill set on fellow Kiwis makes a croc of shit out of the family fighting and dying for the Freedom of Speech. Is that not hate speech?
Anyway I didn’t watch you guys again until recently and nothing’s changed. The A.M. Show had a young speaker.. a man from “Forest and Bird” welcoming the government’s new initiative on Predator Free 2050. He is in a paid job and is only spouting his puppet masters’ views. How long would anyone in Forest and Bird, OSPRI, or DoC last if they had the balls to speak the truth on 1080 ? ‘Forest and Bird’ wrote to the Dept of Conservation in the mid-seventies, telling DoC they were not happy with the number of native birds 1080 was killing each year. Something changed their minds and they are now fully behind its use.
Garner mentioned (former Parliamentary Commissoner for the Environment) Jan Wright and her change of heart with 1080. (Please look up 1080science.co.nz and read for yourself how much the old girl got wrong).
I was 100% for 1080 in 1998 when the ‘powers that be’ came knocking to say we needed 1080 to kill the possums that infected my large cattle herd with bovine TB. (Australia has possums, they are protected natives and they have never been linked to TB. Incidentally bovine TB has been eradicated in Australia since 2002.)
Like most people in 1998, we knew nothing of 1080 and if it got rid of TB we would welcome it. I even suggested they could land the choppers on our lawn if it helped. Well, they completed the drop and buggered off and left us to it. A few days passed and my neighbour told us that he had just found our pet Wekas in the house water supply. I spent the next three weeks dragging dead pigs, deer, and a large assortment of birds from the creek, and its many tributaries, that was our drinking water. I was the only one in our family to get a guts ache from the water.
About a month went by and the full impact of the drop hit us. The bush that normally teemed with birds was quiet. We have never seen a single Tomtit or heard a Ruru, even to this day. Our little piece of paradise was ruined for ever.
Things got worse though. After Christmas dinner we walked to the top of our mountain (Mt.Patriarch) and waited for the Kea to show up. Even their high-pitched screams would have been enough, but not even that happened. My son and I visited the tops several more times and again no Kea. They were gone. Generations of people had witnessed these cheeky birds and DoC had killed the lot – all 23 of them gone.
I then followed up on other Kea colonies that I knew of. They all seemed to disappear after 1080 drops. Mt Robert, the Rainbow, and Ferny Gair all had Kea until 1080 was used. I believe there are now no Kea in Marlborough. These declines in Kea numbers are reflected in DoC’s own census – sixty thousand in the 1970’s, to between one thousand and four thousand now. I personally believe the number to be less than a thousand ( 600?). Rats, stoats, and possums were about in the 1970’s in as big a number as today. The Kea’s habitat has not changed at all, and even redneck Mark Richardson and Duncan Garner would have to agree that DoC’s ‘lead head nail’ story is absolute bullshit. DoC have, with the help of OSPRI, put our alpine clown bird on the endangered list. They will make them extinct in the wild the way they are going.
Contrary to what redneck Mark said about anti-1080 people being a fringe element there are 300,000 people on ‘Ban 1080’ sites. We are bigger than “Forest and Bird”. We are made up of all sorts of folk. We have scientists (two in my family alone), builders, lawyers, doctors, teachers, anyone who can think for themselves and anyone who takes the time to look into the 1080 issue with an open mind. Also there are thousands who, like me, have witnessed the horror of 1080 for themselves. In 2018 a poll of newspaper readers in Blenheim was taken by the Marlborough Express on the banning of 1080. Almost four thousand people responded – 85% against 1080. On the West Coast of the South Island a survey found that figure to be a massive 93% against 1080. Even DoC’s own poll in 2016 had the anti-1080’s at over 60%.
Most anti-1080 people have more then one reason why 1080 should go. Here are mine:
1) It is extremely cruel. I have lost six dogs to it and have witnessed one dog die from it. Not very pleasant.
2) It has entered our food chain. Wild game and some fish with sub-lethal doses. Also what about the cattle and sheep that have eaten it and not died from it ?
3) Tourists are responding negatively to the signage. Trout fishermen are no longer coming.
4) The users of 1080 are not following the guidelines – i.e. keep out of water, bury dead animals, pick up unused bait.
5) It’s killing non-target animals. A survey of 10% of NZ vets in one year put the tally of 1080-poisoned dogs brought to them at 65. (Former PCE Jan Wright knew of only 7 poisoned dogs. There were 18 poisoned dogs in our 1080 drop alone.)
6) It is a teratogen – i.e.causes abnormalities to the unborn. DoC are finding this in baby Kea and other birds.
7) 1080 has ruined a very valuable export market. The wild game and fur industries were huge in the 1970’s – 80’s. Probably worth half a billion in today’s money.
8) Takes natural food away from people who can’t afford to pay for meat. This has a huge impact on families in the far north and on the West Coast.
9) Clean and Green NZ. Yeah right. “Forest and Bird’ and DoC always say “Look at the science”. Their own scientist in the 1960’s told them it would be a disaster to use 1080 ( Dr. Mike Mead). His scientist peers agreed, but it still happened.
Most of DoC’s ‘science’ can be picked to bits with not much trouble. There are dozens of far cleverer people than the underpaid DoC scientists, and if TV3 gave them a chance to speak ,on nationwide TV, 1080 would be gone tomorrow.
All I wish, Amanda, is that you look into 1080 with an open mind. Mark has self-promotion and the National Party on his, so I would never expect any change in his attitude. Duncan Garner acts out of ignorance and I bet he has never for one moment thought an opposing view on 1080. Maori believe the Morepork (Ruru) takes their soul to heaven. Duncan won’t get there because that particular bird will be dead (extinct) long before he is.
Photos below – Mt Patriarch from Jeff Patchett’s farm – Photo Jeff Patchett; Tomtit (male) Pixabay; Kea feeding chick, Fiordland 1920, DoC files.