Tell me again, is DoC really saving our birds? EWR
From Carol Sawyer
This is on the Dunedin Ecosanctuary’s Facebook page today :
“LOCAL RESIDENTS: PLEASE REPORT SIGHTINGS OF SICK KĀKĀ
We are sad to report that two of our Ōrokonui kākā have died over the last week. Initial indications from autopsies suggest that ingestion of an anticoagulant toxin was the cause.
It is possible that the kākā may have accessed bait from stations used for eradicating possums outside the sanctuary. Ōrokonui staff have contacted Ospri, which is managing a large TB control programme in the Dunedin area. This has resulted in a rapid response with contractors removing bait from stations across the entire operation area of the programme as a cautionary measure.
We are asking local residents in the communities surrounding the ecosanctuary to keep an eye out for our kākā and to immediately report any sightings of unwell (or dead) birds. Both of our kākā showed similar symptoms before they died: unusual swaying behavior, looking lethargic and ill. Please contact the DoC Hotline 03 477 0677 from 8:30 to 5pm weekdays, or after hours on 0800 362 468 if you see a kākā behaving in this way. Dunedin’s Wildlife Hospital is on standby to treat any sick birds.
We take this opportunity to remind our wider communities to please not feed kākā as we do not want to encourage them to interact with human-made structures, particularly those that contain food, outside of the safety of the ecosanctuary.”
Remember the NZ Government has changed the rules so that 1080 poison, a Class 1A Ecotoxin, can be dropped directly into our waterways, without a consent from regional councils. They assure us it is perfectly safe and breaks down in water. And yet, here we see historically it was added to water to poison rats. How ‘scientific’ is that? We have two conservation academics with multiple degrees to their names, one considered the ‘founder of modern pest management in NZ’, discussing their concerns at the science used by DoC to back their Predator Free 2050 program. They say it “has not been well informed by scientific knowledge or conservation best practice”. Now, aside from the questions raised about the reliability of the science behind this ambitious yet questionable program, we have a seeming reluctance by the authorities to test for 1080 should you get poisoned. Please check out our 1080 ‘Suspected Poisoning’ page to explore that notion. And more recently we had a retired NZ physician threatened with prosecution for advising the public how to go about getting themselves tested should they suspect they’ve been affected by a nearby 1080 aerial drop. He adds that should you die of it, nobody will know.
Finally, on dilution. To cover that whole topic thoroughly requires a post of its own, however bear in mind the manufacturer’s data sheet warns us not to place 1080 in waterways at all:
Then there was a former co leader of the Green Party who expressed concern about the testing of post 1080 drop water. The frequency of finding 1080 in water samples is at odds with independent testing he said. Official figures say 1080 is detected only 3% of the time however, from the calculations of an independent scientist that incidence is closer to 60%. Lastly we have to ask ourselves, if 1080 is so safe in water because it breaks down, then why was there ever a regional council consent required for it in the first place? All in all not good enough in my opinion. Keeping a Class 1A ecotoxin out of your drinking, or any other water really isn’t rocket science.
Contrary to recent articles in the New Zealand media (including one seemingly supported by the Toxicology Dept of the University of Otago), 1080 poison does not become ‘safe’ when dissolved in water. In fact, historically (before it was banned), it was used in the USA as a poisoned water solution (along with DDT, before that was banned too), to kill the rats on cargo ships, in order to reduce the risk of rats’ fleas carrying a plague disease to humans.
In an academic public health journal, an article was published by Dr John H. Hughes on Aug. 11, 1950.
Entitled “1080 (Sodium Fluoroacetate) Poisoning of Rats on Ships” (Public Health Reports (1896-1970), Vol. 65, No. 32, pages 1021-1028) Dr Hughes explained how “the recommended concentration [for killing rats] is one-half ounce or 14 grams of the poison [which was] dissolved in one gallon of water.” The rats would drink from the poisoned-water bait-stations (which were made of paper cups) and die. Thousands of rats were found dead on 379 different ships, during inspections of the ships’ holds that took place between 24 hours to over a week after the poisoned water had been positioned. The dead rats were tested for poisoning to better understand the processes involved and then safely incinerated because the scientists knew of the high risks that the carcasses would contaminate other areas or poison other animals. The poisoned-water bait-stations were removed because “evaporation made the poisoned water more concentrated” – and therefore more lethal for unintended species.
Later, 1080 poison would be banned for use in ships’ holds, partly because, inevitably, many of the poisoned rats were NOT found: the risk of secondary poisoning was deemed to be too high.
If you are new to the 1080 poisoning program, a must watch is Poisoning Paradise, the doco made by the GrafBoys (banned from screening on NZ TV, yet a 4x international award winner). Their website is tv-wild.com. Their doco is a very comprehensive overview with the independent science to illustrate the question marks that remain over the use of this poison. There are links also on our 1080 resources page to most of the groups, pages, sites etc that will provide you with further information to make your own informed decision on this matter.