It’s nice to see OSPRI – a govt department and poisoning agency – declare that 92% of deer were poisoned in a recent aerial operation across part of Molesworth Station, situated in the South Island.
However, the comment in the news item that states that more deer die in open areas than in the forests following 1080 poison drops, is incorrect. Deer in poisoned forests die in high numbers following the operations, as we have proven over the last 13 years of filming poison drops. The baits are cast all across the forests and waterways, and the deer are more likely to be poisoned in the forests because the baits offer a more easy meal. Deer in more open terrain have more access to grass, their favourite food, so are better nourished. In any case, the poison bait is an attractive cereal food that most animals and many birds love to eat.
Less than 2 x standard sized baits can kill a deer, and just 2 and a half baits can kill a 400 kilo cattle beast (research presented here … https://youtu.be/9EmNIR1iBrk ) And according to our Govt-owned poison factory, just 1 x standard sized bait may kill a child.
When we investigate poison drops in heavy forests, the deer kill rate is estimated to be between 75 – 95%, depending whether the operation is the first – a virgin drop – or a repeated, on-going poisoning program.
Here’s the declaration about the deer poisoned at Molesworth Station. Good on OSPRI for being honest about it, it makes a pleasant change … https://www.odt.co.nz/…/1080-drop-wiped-out-deer-nzs-larges…
1080 drop wiped out deer on NZ’s largest farm
Officials have confirmed that about 90 percent of deer on a block on New Zealand’s largest farm were killed during a 1080 poison drop targeting possums.
The drop was carried out by TBFree NZ in October 2017 over a 62,000ha block on Department of Conservation-owned Molesworth Station, as part of a nine-year programme to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB).
Eight helicopters using GPS dropped toxic bait at 2kg/ha over the station, but the operation was halted when scores of red deer were found to have been killed.
Ospri, the Government-backed company that DoC permits to run pest control operations on public conservation land, later commissioned an aerial survey in February last year to compare deer abundance on a similar-sized block nearby that wasn’t poisoned.
That revealed deer abundance was 88 percent lower in the poisoned area.
Another survey, carried out by Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research last month, found there had only been a slight increase in deer numbers, and that it could take six to eight years before the population fully recovered.
The mass by-kill horrified opponents to 1080 and deer hunters alike.
Experienced helicopter pilot Bill Hales, who has 40 years’ experience as a wild animal recovery operator, earlier told the Herald the drop was a “crying shame of a wasted resource”.
“Why not let us guys in there for three months before you have a poison drop and harvest the product? Why waste the resource?”
Today, Ospri chief operating officer Matthew Hall maintained the use of 1080 for large scale pest control operations was still currently the most effective tool to achieve the company’s TB eradication goals.
“Our work also has biodiversity benefits by reducing possum, rat and stoat numbers.”
“Recognising that there can sometimes be a significant deer by-kill from pest control operations, Ospri is working with industry partners to develop improved deer repellent baits.”
The company was trialling two new repellents in the hope that they’ll be more effective and available for operations to treat the remaining TB risk areas of the 180,000ha station.
“It is important to note that the by-kill was higher in the open terrain of Molesworth than in a heavily forested region like the West Coast.”
Ospri, which manages the TBfree eradication programme, conducted the possum control operation to interrupt the TB infection cycle on the station.
Despite the successful interventions in the wider region, TB-infected wildlife remains present on Molesworth and adjoining properties, and represented an infection risk for the cattle farmed there.
The station had the longest continuous TB-infected cattle herd in the country.
The project to clear infection on the station was seen as pivotal to eradicating bovine TB and reducing the impact of the disease on New Zealand’s meat and dairy exports.
TB eradication in Molesworth was expected in 2026.
The newly-released figures come after the SPCA initially called for a ban on 1080, saying it was “deeply concerned” over its use, before changing its position and acknowledging there was a “a need for population control of some species”.
Monitoring data by the Department of Conservation has shown that aerial 1080 operations were effective at protecting under-threat native species and restoring forests.
Scientific data collected over more than 60 years had confirmed that, when used in accordance with New Zealand regulations, 1080 presented little risk to humans or the environment, and left no permanent or accumulative residue in water, soil, plants or animals.
However, DoC acknowledged 1080 posed risks to dogs, livestock, deer and pigs if they were in poisoned areas.
Photo Credit, Molesworth Station: wikipedia