Category Archives: Ospri

Two academics have hit out at the Government’s Predator Free 2050 goal, calling it “badly designed and unachievable”

From News Hub

They say the plan could lead to a decline in public support for conservation policy, because it’s an “impossible” target destined for “inevitable failure”.

The plan was announced by former Prime Minister John Key in 2016, and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has previously said it needed a “reality check”.

Victoria University School of Biological Sciences associate professor Wayne Linklater and ecologist Dr Jamie Steer said their research shows the plan is based on flawed assumptions.

Those assumptions are:

  • Predator extermination is the best way to protect biodiversity
  • The country needs to eradicate every stoat, rat and possum to protect biodiversity
  • A complete eradication of predators is possible

“None of these assumptions are true,” Mr Linklater said.

“Complete eradication of predators is technologically impossible, and biodiversity is affected more in some places by habitat decline and plant eaters than it is by predators.”

He said eliminating select predators from complex communities of plants, animals, and humans was likely to be harmful, causing populations of other introduced animals to erupt.

READ MORE

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2018/07/nz-s-impossible-predator-free-2050-goal-blasted-by-academics.html

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Correspondence from OSPRI on their deliberate release of TB infected possums

OSPRI RESPONSE TO RECENT QUESTIONING RE CLARENCE RESERVE, MARLBOROUGH, IN RELATION TO AERIAL 1080 POISONING

Carol Sawyer writes: “This correspondence was sent to me by a Facebook friend last night and I felt it was worth posting in its entirety. It includes, for example, such questions as whether any rat and/or possum population assessment was carried out on the Clarence Reserve – either before or after the Oct 2016 aerial 1080 poison drop.

Nick Hancox, OSPRI Policy Advisor, is clearly rattled by reference to their release of deliberately Tb-infected possums.
He says below (6 July, 2017) “In closing I ask you to note that the deliberate release of TB-infected possums (for research purposes) was into a small area of the Orongorongo Valley, where TB in possums was already chronic and at high prevalence. The experimental release was immaterial in regard to disease risk and prevalence in the area. Unfortunately this matter has been the subject of a number of ill-founded and frankly mischievous pubic statements and claims.”

He appears to be denying the same thing was done at Muzzle Station in the Clarence Reserve. Well it was!

So I have also included earlier correspondence I had myself with OSPRI (April 2016) re deliberately infected possums released on Muzzle Station. Muzzle Station leases about 8,000 ha of the Clarence Reserve.”

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RE DELIBERATELY INFECTING POSSUMS WITH TB (Carol’s correspondence referred to above)

I had a phone conversation in April, 2016, with Phillip Dawson, Operations Extension Officer for OSPRI NZ Ltd in Hamilton and he sent me this email

“Hello,

Links below might help to explain the release of TB infected animals for research, as we discussed over the phone.

Release of tb possum in Orongorongo valley https://www.tbfree.org.nz/research-work-vital-to-achieving-…

Muzzle station research https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/…/how-does-chronic-tb-af…

Not sure of how many more of these might have been done but all would have been under a controlled conditions where TB animals can be traced and removed and where TB is already in wildlife in the area.

Regards, Phil”

I asked Phil if he thought they would kill all the remaining possums with the 1080 drop and he said they would kill 90% of the possums and eventually do two more drops and get the rest!

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RECENT CORRESPONDENCE WITH OSPRI :

Information request to TBfree

Sent: Monday, 3 April 2017 6:03:33 p.m.
Subject: TBfree Contact Us Form

Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Conservation Park, including the hunting area known as Clarence Reserve, near Kaikoura, South Island was subjected to aerial 1080 poisoning on the 16 Oct 2016 as part of the agency TB Free’s ‘pesticide control’.
An OIA response from TBFree informed me that the rationale for the operation was because 10 pigs over 2 years were found with TB and that there had been ‘an assumption’ (scientific knowledge unknown) that possum were therefore carrying it too.
Recent OIA results from DoC’s aerial 1080 poison drop at Makarora Valley, South Island revealed that no possum count had been undertaken at all and that rat population assessments revealed very low levels of rats.

With this in mind, I am interested to know the following:
Whether any rat and/or possum population assessment was carried out at Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Conservation Park – either before or after the Oct 2016 aerial 1080 poison drop. Please provide detailed methodology and results of these assessments (if they exist).
I understand that there is a current proposal for a further 44,000 hectares adjacent to the Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Conservation Park to be aerial 1080 poisoned later in 2017 – The Clarence River reserve. Can you explain why this proposal does not currently appear on DoC Pesticide Summary Interactive map? Can you clarify where such information might be readily available to the public and tourists translations if required?
Finally, can you please provide full details of the rationale for this proposed 1080 poison operation at Clarence Reserve and whether this is at all connected to the 10 wild pigs contained in the previous rationale? Again, I need measurement and assessment (methodology, results) of rats and possum populations within this specific area within the last 5 years (if this exists).

For the purposes of this OIA I confirm I am an NZ resident.

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On 4/05/2017, at 11:10, Nick Hancox ( Nick.Hancox@tbfree.org.nz ) wrote:

Dear ………….

I reply to your emailed information request of 3 April 2017 (copied below) as follows:

TBfree NZ completed aerial 1080 baiting for possum control over part of Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Conservation Park on 16 October 2016, as part of our Kowhai Swyncombe operation.

Prior to that operation, possum density within the target area had been estimated (in 2014) using Bite Mark Index methodology. This returned a mean Bite Mark Index (BMI) of 12%. Details of the methodology are available at http://www.npca.org.nz/…/a1_possum%20monitoring_2015-nov_lr….

Post-operational monitoring of possum density has not been carried out for the Kowhai-Swyncombe operation. It is our normal practice to monitor possum densities no earlier than 2-3 years after aerial control operations. This later monitoring is more useful, in that it provides an indication of any population recovery and thus allows us to begin the process of monitoring the need for further control work.

Information provided to you on 13 March 2017 (as attached) on findings of TB infected pigs was in relation to TBfree’s planned 2017 Clarence Reserve operation. This operation was originally planned to commence from 1 July 2017. However we are currently negotiating timing of the operation with affected landowners, which is likely to result in a later start date for this operation, possibly in November.

We have no possum monitoring results from the Clarence Reserve operational area. Possum numbers are assumed to be high enough to warrant control, because of the lack of previous possum control in the area. As previously advised to you, the history of TB in both livestock and wild pigs from the area is strongly indicative of TB infection in possums.

We do not monitor rat populations associated with TB possum control operations unless this is specifically required by the Department of Conservation.

DOC Pesticide Summary information for the Clarence Reserve Operation will appear after DOC has been formally notified of a detailed operational plan. This requires consent and boundary agreements to be finalised with affected and neighbouring landowners. Negotiations towards this are still in progress, so the Pesticide Summary may not appear for another month or more. Formal prior notification of the operation – as required under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act – involves a number of steps, including:

· Written notification and visits to all land occupiers within and adjacent to the control area

· Written notice to known likely users of the area, such as hunting and outdoors groups and clubs, concession holders and guides

· A public meeting in Kaikoura which will be advertised

· Notices in local newspapers

· Signposting at all likely access points

Attached for your information is a factsheet for the Clarence Reserve Operation, which will be distributed as part of the above notification. The factsheet for last year’s Kowhai-Swyncombe operation is also attached.

Yours sincerely

Nick Hancox

NICK HANCOX

SENIOR OPERATIONAL POLICY ADVISOR

OSPRI New Zealand Limited

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Hello again Nick.

Can you please inform me as to why the Clarence River area cattle herd apparently historically displaying bTb has not been culled? Whilst travelling in this area last month, it was obvious that cattle were being walked down public highways through traffic and other contamination risks.

It seems blatantly obvious to me that with no possum assessment or monitoring done and no changes to the way cattle are transported through the area, and no culling of infected herds, that the situation will remain the same.

This cycle of aerial poisoning without scientific rationale – especially when elsewhere possum are being deliberately infected with Tb and released into the environment – is unsustainable and the Directors of Ospri & Doc will now become accountable.

Your response?

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From: Nick Hancox <Nick.Hancox@tbfree.org.nz>
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2017 at 13:59

Dear……

Without knowing exactly which cattle were being moved where, it is difficult for me to comment. However when cattle are driven along roads, this is usually to move them from one paddock to another within their home farm. This in itself would not create risk of infection spreading to other cattle herds, and in the Clarence Reserve locality, wildlife TB will be also be present, so local droving of cattle along roads would not create any additional disease transmission risks. There are strict controls on movement of cattle from infected herds to live sale or to other herds, and in most cases movement direct to slaughter is the only realistic option. Transmission of TB from cattle to humans (other than by drinking unpastuerised milk from a cow with advanced tuberculous mastitis, or through close and confined contact such as in a milking shed) is extremely unlikely.

TB-infected herds are subject to regular TB tests and all test-positive animals are culled. This usually sufficient to eradicate TB from herds after a few whole-herd tests, unless the herd is exposed to re-infection from wildlife. In the latter case a regular test and slaughter regime can at least keep infection within the herd down to a level where continuing to maintain the herd is feasible and economic.

Whole herd slaughter is an option in some cases but it makes little sense where re-infection from wildlife is likely, as any replacement herd would soon become infected as well.

You can find details of herd testing and movement control policies in our National Operational Plan at http://www.tbfree.org.nz/national-operational-plan.aspx

In closing I ask you to note that the deliberate release of TB-infected possums (for research purposes) was into a small area of the Orongorongo Valley, where TB in possums was already chronic and at high prevalence. The experimental release was immaterial in regard to disease risk and prevalence in the area. Unfortunately this matter has been the subject of a number of ill-founded and frankly mischievous pubic statements and claims.

Yours sincerely

Nick

NICK HANCOX

SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR

OSPRI New Zealand Limited

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Photos

1 ) (Header) Possum being deliberately injected with Tb before release into wild – Landcare Research photo
2 ) Mustering on Muzzle Station – Musters oldest team member, Rick Denton – Photo RadioNZ
3) Hereford cattle crossing the Clarence River on Muzzle Station – Photo “Stuff”

SOURCE