EWR comment: the 1080 issue is still as present as ever. It has been overshadowed more urgently at this blog by the CV VX rollout. The 1080 poisoning however continues, business as usual with currently the East Cape to be slathered with this deadly poison. Sixty years on and we still have the pests? How long does one keep applying a solution that doesn’t work? Meanwhile the beautiful Kea is in serious decline. If you are new to the 1080 problem here in NZ just watch the GrafBoys’ excellent award winning doco ‘Poisoning Paradise‘ & visit their site tv-wild.com. Also see our 1080 pages (main menu). Article below… __________________________________________________________________________
IMPORTANT UNPUBLISHED LETTER BY DR. FIONA McQUEEN – THE WANAKA SUN
“…most conservation –minded NZ’ers would be fairly shocked to hear that 1080 actually kills native birds – in any numbers, small or “huge”. This unfortunate fact has been well and truly proven in peer-reviewed studies and is termed “by-kill”. Which species? Tomtits, robins, morepork and kea to name a few… after the 2020 drop in the pristine Matukituki Valley, 50% of DoC’s monitored kea died” Dr Fiona McQueen
From Carol Sawyer
On April 15, 2021, The Wanaka Sun published an opinion piece by Ross Sinclair, committee member of the pro-1080 poison Central Otago Lakes “Forest and Bird”…. incorrect and biased as one might expect. Over the ensuing weeks there were a number of ‘Letters to the Editor’ in opposition to this article. (Notably there were none in support of the opinion piece, although Ross Sinclair was given the right of reply not once, but twice!) One letter was from Dr. Fiona McQueen, consultant rheumatologist at the SDHB, and author of “The Quiet Forest: The Case Against Aerial 1080”. The Sun’s editor, Pat Deavoll, told Dr. McQueen in an email on 19 April that she would “certainly publish it in the next edition- you have made some very good points”. It has never been published. I posted it on Facebook a week ago along with the original opinion piece, with Dr. Fiona McQueen’s permission. Strangely, I shared it to Upper Clutha Community Notices, a local Wanaka Facebook group with more than 7,000 members. It was approved and then quickly deleted and when I pointed this out to one of the admins with whom I have had cordial dealings in the past, it was reinstated. It was deleted again; again I pointed this out and it was reinstated. It appeared there was disagreement among the admins. Finally, after 24 hours or so, comments were turned off, this particular administrator sent me an extremely rude private message, totally uncalled for, referring to “your precious post”, the post was deleted, and she blocked me. Dr. McQueen’s letter STILL has not been published by The Wanaka Sun and yet here in this week’s issue is a letter from John Veysey, commenting on the non-existent letter !! (I thought I must have made a mistake but I have been back through the last 6 weeks of The Wanaka Sun and, no, Dr. Fiona McQueen’s letter has never been published). Here is her letter again, and I have attached John Veysey’s letter to The Wanaka Sun, from this week’s edition, (which must have a few people scratching their heads as no-one reading The Wanaka Sun has ever seen Dr. McQueen’s letter) :
“Dear Sir, I would like to make some comments in response to your recent article, “Putting 1080 to Bed”. Firstly, I would expect that most conservation –minded NZ’ers would be fairly shocked to hear that 1080 actually kills native birds – in any numbers, small or “huge”. This unfortunate fact has been well and truly proven in peer-reviewed studies and is termed “by-kill”. Which species? Tomtits, robins, morepork and kea to name a few. How many are killed? Contrary to Dr Sinclair, I find the data on kea to be extremely alarming. It has been estimated (by DoC) that each poisoning operation will kill, on average, 12% of kea. But sometimes that percentage has been much higher. For example after the 2020 drop in the pristine Matukituki Valley, 50% of DoC’s monitored kea died. “The keas’ deaths will be horrific, with extreme muscular spasms going on for many hours,” said Dr Jo Pollard, PhD, an independent scientist who has crusaded for years against the use of aerial 1080. Personal confirmation of this came to me quite separately from an individual working on a DOC hut during 2020. In the days following a 1080 drop he commented, “the keas were making a really awful noise, it sounded like they might have been screaming …” It is very disturbing that there are so few of these iconic birds to be found now around the West Coast, in areas where they used to be plentiful. DOC says its the stoats. Really? Stoats were introduced more than a hundred years ago. The kea population only seems to have plummeted in the last twenty or so (since intensive and repetitive 1080 drops have been underway in kea habitat). More likely it is something that most definitely kills them in large numbers – 1080. Ross Sinclair has alluded to the recently published paper by Bomans et al, (NZ Journal of Ecology 2021) investigating the effect of 1080 drops on birdsong. True, there was very little difference shown between 1080 and control groups over a period of years (leaving aside the subgroup of tomtits exposed to 1080 where birdsong was reduced). But hold on, shouldn’t there have been a difference? Isn’t that what the whole 1080 programme is supposed to do? Bring back the birdsong? Here is conclusive scientific proof that it is a complete waste of time and money, with a lot of dreadful suffering thrown in for many helpless creatures.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
Lawyer, Sue Grey testifies to a number of unlawful acts of the crown and its contractors who have been aerially spreading deadly poison, called 1080, on DOC land, Maori Land and private land. Sue and her team has identified over 10 possible legal challenges involving apparent criminal or civil breaches of statutory obligations by DoC, OSPRI and/or poison contractors. Sue Grey testified on June 23, 2019 before the ITNJ Commission of Inquiry into Weaponisation of the Biosphere. Watch all the Indonesia Seatings at https://commission.itnj.org Help continue this work and expose the next phase of expert witness testimonies. http://www.itnj.org
“Sue Grey Testimony on New Zealand’s Ecocide with the use of 1080 Poison
The ITNJ opens its Commission of Inquiry into the Weaponisation of the Biosphere with stunning testimony from New Zealand expert witness Sue Grey, in what she describes as ‘ecocide’ and ‘a war on nature’.
A lawyer and activist with multiple science degrees and over 30 years’ experience in environmental health policy, Sue testifies to the devastation being caused to New Zealand’s native wildlife and ecosystems through the systematic and widespread aerial poisoning with the chemical Sodium Fluoroacetate, commonly known as “1080” Poison.
Four hundred million 1080 pellets (enough to kill over a hundred million people) will be spread by helicopter this year over much of the country’s land and waterways, in a longstanding Crown sponsored program, its stated purpose: to preserve native wildlife by eradicating non-native stoats and rats. However, the cereal baits attract many other species of insects, birds, and mammals, contaminating the food chain and cruelly killing thousands of “non-target” species including deer, farmed stock and dogs. There has been a drastic impact on Kea (native parrots) and cereal baits are known to poison many other species of native bird including iconic Kiwi and Weka.
Birds and animals can be poisoned by eating the bait directly, drinking from poisoned waterways, or by feeding on the carcasses of poisoned animals. Evidence also exists that 1080 has made it its way up the food chain into wild pork, farmed cows and honey, and is also suspected to have poisoned humans, many of whom Grey has represented.
Despite many years of campaigning, lawsuits, public outcry, and official statistics that prove its catastrophic failure, the New Zealand government refuses to take responsibility and bring an end to the serious threats posed by this program to New Zealand’s ecosystem and its inhabitants.
ABOUT THE ITNJ: The ITNJ is the world’s first people-powered tribunal that operates independently of governments and corporations, and is therefore willing to issue rulings against those organizations based on Natural Law, where agents of governments and/or corporations have caused harm or loss to living men and women, and in this case, matters that relate to the weaponization of our biosphere and the existential ecocide and genocidal threat against humanity.
“I USED TO HAVE A HUGE FLOCK OF KEA AROUND MY FARM DOWN THE WEST COAST…
..and when they did a big 1080 drop, maybe 12 or 15 years ago, they completely wiped this flock of several hundred, possibly as many as a thousand, Kea out in one fell swoop. They were all dead within days. The tops around the farm were from that point on, until I sold it and left, were silent.
Also all the bush falcons get wiped out in the bush, harrier hawks, etc…
the destruction that it causes is incredible.
Whenever you do a survey in the bush after a big 1080 drop you will find all sorts of dead birds, including the insect-eating birds.”
A must watch also 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.
Whilst your comments are welcome, this is a venue for independent info. Please discuss/debate your pro poison thoughts in mainstream where they’re welcomed & independent info is not. You will find the independent science at 1080science.co.nz Or search other articles in categories at the top, left hand side of the page.
By Bill Wallace, (Leader of the Ban1080 Party and a qualified ecologist), April 22, 2017
The first Department of Conservation radio-tagging trial with Kea during an aerial 1080 poisoning operation was in 2008. Of the 17 monitored Kea at Franz Josef, 7 died of 1080 poisoning. (40% mortality)
DoC’s excuse at the time “may have been because juvenile Kea in the area had a habit of investigating “human-type” junk foods. .” (ODT 2/08/08)
In 2008 The Dominion Post obtained a draft internal report by DOC after the 7 deaths. The report says “aerial 1080 may well be a significant threat to the Kea population” with some drops “probably devastating”…
DoC’s Dr. Josh Kemp said “The Franz Josef Kea deaths had “shocked and stunned” DOC” (Stuff 28/01/09)
But Kea deaths from 1080 poison have been proven for over 52 years.
In 1964 Protection Forest workers picked up 4 dead Kea and 8 dead seagulls after a single 1080 drop. The birds tested positive for 1080 poisoning. (M.H.Douglas: Control of Tahr: Evaluation of a Poisoning Technique July 1966).
To find 12 large poisoned birds on foot would indicate the death rate must have been devastating for all the bird species in the area. DoC like to blame the decline in Kea numbers on early bounties. “ Kea had numbered in the hundreds of thousands but were devastated when a bounty was paid to kill them because of concerns they attacked stock.” (Press 29/07/08)
In 2011, DoC poisoned 7 out of 11 Kea at North Okarito ( 60% mortality). DoC’s excuse this time “It seemed likely the more open nature of the North Okarito forest was a factor, Mr Costello said” (ODT 12/09/11)
DoC then went on in 2013 to kill 5 radio-tagged Kea at Arthur’s Pass, DoC’s excuse this time “the repellent was less than the target concentration”( Stuff 21/08/13)
If such inane, puerile excuses were put forward by CYPS or the Police next time a vulnerable child is brutally killed, the media and politicians alike would take the offending officials to task. DoC appear immune from such scrutiny.
In 1999 DoC’s Dr’s Elliot and Kemp said “Kea nests appear to be relatively immune to predation from introduced mammals…Our results agree with a previous study of Kea nesting at Arthur’s Pass, where no evidence of significant nest predation was found (Jackson 1963).” (G Elliot & J Kemp 1999)
Now DoC claim “The Kea deaths are unfortunate but without protection most Kea chicks are killed by stoats. (Westport News 26/01/15)
So what has changed, DoC’s inept monitoring of nests since 2000 would appear to be resulting in further Kea predation and nest abandonment.
Overseas bird experts warn “Avoid leaving tracks or human scent that can direct predators to nests.” (Cornell University Ornithology Dept 2011) “visiting nests to check the contents necessarily results in disturbance of the individuals being studied. Moreover, investigator disturbance may increase the probability of nest predation… Human disturbance may also reduce nest attendance” (Elser and Grand 1993).
The logic is simple. Birds fly to their nests and leave no scent trail. Dr’s Elliot and Kemp and their sweaty cohorts leave a scent trail to the nests that a geriatric stoat on crutches could follow. “Eggs and chicks disappeared from 35% of the nests we monitored and at two of these nests definite sign of stoat predation was found” “Once it was found, we checked each nest every 2-3 weeks until it either failed or the chicks had fledged…” (G Elliot& J Kemp 2004)
Black-billed seagulls are now endangered, but DoC’s predecessors knew they were slaughtering them in their breeding grounds during the nesting season back in 1964. “A Department of Conservation report on bird numbers has classified the Black-billed gull “nationally critical”, the most serious category, usually reserved for our rarest birds, because of the rate of expected decline. There were an estimated 180,000 to 200,000 of the birds in 1977. There are now thought to be 60,000 to 70,000.” (Stuff 30/10/14)
In 2014, when DoC first monitored the endangered Rock wren through an aerial 1080 drop, 29 of 44 birds “disappeared” ( 65% mortality). DoC blamed “heavy snowfall” at the time and said “We have found no dead rock wren. There’s no evidence to suggest that … we’ve knocked them out with 1080.”(Herald 19/01/15)
But DoC’s Dr. Elliot now admits “The 1080 drop in 2014 killed four Keas and led to the death of Rock Wrens” (Fairfax Nov 16th 2015)
So why do so many otherwise sane people accept everything that DoC tell them? The so called independent EPA report is often cited, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Environment, Dr Wright is an absolute “1080-ophile”
But the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) review was called for by Department of Conservation (DoC) and Animal Health Board, and there was no cross examination of witnesses from either side of the debate. In October 2006, the AHB and DoC jointly submitted the formal application for reassessment of 1080. The applicants argued that 1080 is essential to controlling possums, which pose significant risks to farming (through the spread of bovine Tb) and to the environment (through predation of native plants and birds – EPA 2007).
The EPA report therefore, is similar in stature to a Local Council decision, made by Councillors or Commissioners. Such Council decisions are often completely rejected or significantly modified by the Environment Court, with the benefit of cross examination of witnesses.
Even after 63 years use of 1080 poison, DoC’s Graeme Elliot says “How are you supposed to find out how to do it perfectly? There is a lot of learning to do before we will get these operations perfect.” (Fairfax March 29th 2016)
There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind, or in that of the many retired Forest Service personnel and bushmen that I know, that the single biggest cause of the rapid decline of species such as Kea and Rock wren, is DoC and its inept and continuing use of 1080, and these species may well be extinct in our lifetimes, probably before Dr. Elliot finishes “learning”.
Leader Ban1080 Political Party, (April, 2017)
Do not feed the Kea the sign above advises. Ironic isn’t it? They’ve been fed 1080 unfortunately by the very corporation which purports to protect them. We know 1080 kills every breathing organism (according to Dr Meriel Watts) so what else can we expect? Ten thousand birds in one drop a Landcare scientist has calculated for one of DoC’s drops. This is so not rocket science & yet here we have another sad testimony of the increasingly silent forests. This one is from Carol Sawyer.
HOLLYFORD VALLEY, FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, DEVASTATING AERIAL 1080 POISON DROP, OCTOBER 2017 – 18 MONTHS LATER, STILL DISASTROUS RESULTS – NO RECOVERY !
By Carol Sawyer
Yesterday I visited the Hollyford Valley in Fiordland. What a silent place, apart from the cicadas and the tourist traffic. This road is dangerously busy. One rental car passed me on a double yellow line…this is standard.
A recent survey found this narrow winding road has, on average, 150 buses and 1200 cars on it every day. Knob’s Flat is about to have a $30 million lodge put in by the Milford Development Co, so the influx is going to be even greater.
The toilets are so disgusting that I was told yesterday that some bus tour drivers stop and let their passengers toilet in the forest so they don’t have to deal with the assault on their senses. ( Attached is a photo Shane Wilson took of the toilets at The Divide, on the Hollyford Road, about a year ago. I was going to take a photo myself yesterday but the stench the minute I opened the door truly had me reeling backwards, so I didn’t. )
The 1080 drop in the Lower and Upper Hollyford Valleys in Fiordland, 5-6 October, 2017 has been an unmitigated disaster ! The area had never been 1080 poisoned before.
For many years, there has been a volunteer trapping programme in place around Gunn’s Camp on the Hollyford Road. Ninety-eight traps are set along approximately 20 kms of the Hollyford Road, back into the bush a bit, from Marian Corner to Humboldt Creek and for a couple of kilometres beyond the end of the road.
These traps are set approximately 200 metres apart, and they are cleared every three weeks, weather permitting. For years, these traps averaged a total of 6 to 12 rats every three weeks, all up.
After the 1080 drop, the next couple of trap clearances yielded very little. This is what one would expect immediately after an aerial 1080 drop.
Five months later, March 2018, the traps were cleared and contained 32 rats. Interestingly, some of the traps had two rats in them, which is apparently unusual.
The following weekend the tally was 24 rats. That equates to 54 rats in a period of 6 weeks, whereas prior to the drop one could have expected, at the most, 12 to 24 rats to be caught in that time.
Rats had NEVER been caught here in these numbers before !
Things have not improved. The latest trap clearance, February, 2019, yielded 19 rats and 7 stoats !!
( These results come from inside the Dept of Conservation itself, but I doubt that they would have seen the light of day if they were not exposed here ! DoC need to understand that not all their employees agree with their poisoning ways.)
Gunn’s camp in the Hollyford was a Kaka haven. Twenty to forty Kaka were regularly seen there, and as many as fifty were counted on one occasion.
Moreporks ( Ruru ) abounded. One Morepork used to sit behind a generator shed there, and when the generator was turned off every night it then became very vocal. It was a loved ‘character’ of this special place.
All Kaka disappeared after the drop. Eighteen months later up to 3 Kaka have been seen and a Morepork was heard in the distance one night a while ago, according to regulars ( The “generator” Morepork was obviously killed by the poison. ) Fantails are gone.
I guess the DoC poisoners will be back again this year, for their biennial onslaught
COMMENT AT FACEBOOK ON THIS ARTICLE:
“Yes try finding birdlife in the Lindus Pass now days, it’s pretty much NON existent”
If you’ve noticed the same anywhere in NZ, please add your comments to our ‘Silent Forests’ page. Just let me know if you want anonymity or if I can add your name. Thank you.
Photos at Hollyford Valley, Fiordland, NZ (Carol Sawyer)
NOTE: For further articles on 1080 use categories at left of the news page.
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.
Posted recently in 1080 social media pages (name supplied):
Graham says: “Just before Christmas my worker and I were clearing back overhanging foliage from a footpath in a built up area. Along came an elderly gentleman on his little scooter thing they have these days. He wanted to stop for a yarn so we obliged. He was 82 and had just made one last journey back home to the area he grew up in … the West coast. He went to all his childhood and teenage years haunts and spent time, a lot of it in and on bush tracks.
I asked him did he notice much in the way of change since those days?
The Birds he said … the place used to be full of native birds but all he saw on this whole trip there was one Weka. Everything has gone. The bush is now dead. No Kiwi, no Weka or Tui, even the Kea had gone.
“The place used to be lousy with Keruru, now nothing. He has no doubt whatsoever that 1080 is to blame. It’s just destroyed everything.
Where he lives now, and I have no idea where that is, he said he had planted lots of Kowhai and every year the Tui came and he used to sit on the front porch and watch them … this year … nothing … not one bird.
But of course a lifetime’s observation is unscientific and counts for nothing.”
“… a lifetime’s observation is unscientific and counts for nothing” … note that even the independent science from bona fide scientists counts for nothing. Only the ‘science’ that the authorities sign off is considered acceptable. Remember the recent post citing Reihana Robinson in ‘The Killing Nation’ and the revelation that 70% of the Department of Conservation’s ‘scientific’ studies justifying the aerial distribution of 1080 are done in-house?
Header Photo: Tui in Kowhai tree (envirowatchrangitikei)
NOTE: For further articles on 1080 use categories at left of the news page.
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.
NOTE: Periodically & randomly the facebook share option will disappear from posts on the front (this) page. If it is not appearing, click on the heading of the article to go to its own page, usually the share button will show up there. (All else failing copy & past the url to your facebook page).
“On the night of the 30th November [the day of the last 1080 drop] a single kea was heard screaming in the trees behind the township. After that the five kea in Haast township were never seen again. Two years later there are still no kea in Haast Township … twenty years of Compound 1080 in the Haast Valley has killed our kea population … and on the 15th November 2018 the Department of Conservation plan to aerially drop Compound 1080 poison again on Haast……”
The photo above is the saddest thing I have seen in years – taken today – a flax bush in full flower and not a single kea to be seen.
Back in November 2010 the flax bushes in Haast township were filled with the noise and antics of kea fighting over the sweet nectar. One evening I saw seven kea in one bush. The next photo was taken on the 10th November 2010……..
By April 2016 we had five kea permanently living in the town – this photo below was taken on the 12th April 2016………..
But on the 30th November 2016 the Department of Conservation as part of their Battle for our Birds campaign aerial spread Compound 1080 near Haast township (True Left Haast drop zone)……..
On the night of the 30th November a single kea was heard screaming in the trees behind the township. After that the five kea in Haast township were never seen again. Two years later there are still no kea in Haast Township ………..
So the flax bush flowers and there is nothing to eat its sweet nectar. Compound 1080 does not increase native bird numbers………… Sixty years of Compound 1080 has not saved New Zealand wildlife…….. twenty years of Compound 1080 in the Haast Valley has killed our kea population………..
And on the 15th November 2018 the Department of Conservation plan to aerially drop Compound 1080 poison again on Haast……
Carol Sawyer recently drew attention to a letter to the editor by scientist Dr Jo Pollard that expresses concern over the Kea Conservation Trust’s plans.
LETTER, OTAGO DAILY TIMES, 16 October, 2018
I read your article on the activities of the Kea Conservation Trust (ODT 10/10/18) with despair. Paying no heed to the recent deaths of two pet kea that were blood sampled by DoC, this volunteer group is continuing with its blood sampling of wild kea. The group is also planning more interference with kea nests, despite high rates of abandonment and failure of nests which they have monitored previously. Normally, a female kea spends years building her nest then can use it for life. Even a preschool child knows that disturbing a bird’s nest is likely to cause abandonment and attract predators. Scientific literature backs this up. Research has also shown that stoats and possums are not normally a threat to kea nests, but other kea and falcons are and are likely to be attracted by monitoring. Science and common sense indicate that kea would be much better off left alone.
One in eight bird species are threatened with global extinction, and once widespread creatures such as the puffin, snowy owl and turtle dove are plummeting towards oblivion, according to the definitive study of global bird populations.
The State of the World’s Birds, a five-year compendium of population data from the best-studied group of animals on the planet, reveals a biodiversity crisis driven by the expansion and intensification of agriculture.
In all, 74% of 1,469 globally threatened birds are affected primarily by farming. Logging, invasive species and hunting are the other main threats.
“Each time we undertake this assessment we see slightly more species at risk of extinction – the situation is deteriorating and the trends are intensifying,” said Tris Allinson, senior global science officer for BirdLife International, which produced the report. “The species at risk of extinction were once on mountaintops or remote islands, such as the pink pigeon in Mauritius. Now we’re seeing once widespread and familiar species – European turtle doves, Atlantic puffins and kittiwakes – under threat of global extinction.”
Here is an article from 2007, and the drops continue, in spite of the clear scientific evidence it is not beneficial to our ecosystem.
“We have audited Department of Conservation scientific research and produced an 88-page monograph reviewing more than 100 scientific papers.
The results are startling and belie most of the department’s claims.
First, there is no credible scientific evidence showing that any species of native bird benefits from the dropping of tonnes of 1080 into our forest ecosystems
Second, considerable evidence exists that DoC’s aerial 1080 operations are doing serious harm”Quinn and Patricia Whiting-O’Keefe
Scientists, Quinn and Patricia Whiting-O’Keefe: “Poison facts belie the claims”
There is now a familiar litany of scientifically insupportable claims about what great things aerial 1080, a universal poison, is doing for our forest ecosystems. The people of New Zealand have a right to know the truth about what the scientific evidence shows.
We have audited Department of Conservation scientific research and produced an 88-page monograph reviewing more than 100 scientific papers.
The results are startling and belie most of the department’s claims.
First, there is no credible scientific evidence showing that any species of native bird benefits from the dropping of tonnes of 1080 into our forest ecosystems, as claimed by the department and Kevin Hackwell. There is certainly no evidence of net ecosystem benefit.
We have repeatedly challenged DoC and Mr Hackwell, a representative of the Forest and Bird Society, to come forward with the hard scientific evidence for their “dead forest” claims. They have not.
Second, considerable evidence exists that DoC’s aerial 1080 operations are doing serious harm, as one would expect, given that 1080 is toxic to all animals. It kills large numbers of native species of birds, invertebrates and bats.
Moreover, most native species are completely unstudied. In addition considerable evidence shows there are chronic and sublethal effects to vertebrate endocrine and reproductive systems, possibly including those of humans.
Considerable evidence demonstrates that DoC’s aerial 1080 operations are doing serious harm. Photos: Upper (Tomtit in hand) by Clyde Graf Lower (multiple dead birds) by Jim Hilton:
Dead birds found over a few acres, after 270,000 hectare aerial 1080 poison drop, Kahurangi National Park, 2014. This was the first year of DoC’s “Battle for our Birds” drops.
Third, DoC claims that one can drop food laced with 1080, a universal poison (World Health Organisation classification “1A extremely hazardous”) indiscriminately into a semi-tropical forest ecosystem and only negatively affect one or two target “pest” species. That is counterintuitive and scientifically improbable.
Fourth, as far as we can determine no other country in the world is doing (or has ever done) anything remotely similar – mass poisoning of a semi-tropical ecosystem on the scale that the department is now doing to ours.
Fifth, and perhaps most disturbing, is that what the department-sponsored research shows has been habitually misrepresented – entirely unjustifiable assertions regarding 1080’s benefits and lack of harm.
Statements like those of Mr Hackwell that the forests will be “dead” without poisoning them with 1080, and from John McLennan (Landcare Research) and Al Morrison (then Director General of DoC) that 1080 is existentially necessary to Kiwis is pure demagoguery and scientific nonsense.
What is at risk by continuation of this extraordinary practice – and it is unique in the world – is the ecological integrity of our forest ecosystems, our reputation as an environmentally sane and responsible country, and our existence as a society in which reason and rationality can triumph over bureaucratic prerogative and budgetary gain.
Since Galileo Galilee first discovered the moons of Jupiter in the 17th century, the way to resolve this kind of disagreement has been to do the experiment and examine the evidence, and that is precisely what we urge everyone to do.
Don’t believe DoC. Don’t believe Mr Hackwell. Don’t believe us – believe the evidence. To that end we will provide a copy of our report and the source scientific research papers to all who would like to read them.
* Quinn and Patricia Whiting-O’Keefe are retired scientists.
See also our 1080 pagesfor info & links, &/or search ‘categories’ drop down box for further related articles (at left of any page).
Share & help spread the word on all the untruths we have been told,
Please Note re commenting:
Your comments are welcome, however if you are a fan of 1080 & wish to highlight DoC’s data then mainstream media is the place to go. This site is reserved for providing independent research & unfortunately I do not have the time to monitor long discussions. As well, I decline to publish information that is freely available on DoC’s own website. People can go there and peruse that for themselves.
“The following New Zealand film has won 4 international environmental awards – but here in NZ, TV channels refuse to play it. Why? Because if they did, there would be outrage and riots over New Zealand’s use of aerially applied 1080 poison. See for yourself … ” From TheGrafBoys‘ Youtube Channel
For over 15 years the New Zealand Government has been systematically dropping massive amounts of food, laced with a cruel and universally toxic poison into its forest ecosystems. Enough poison every year to kill the entire population of NZ four times over. No other country is doing, or ever has done, anything remotely similar on such a scale.
1080 is an alias for Monofluoroacetate, a chemical. It blocks a particular step in the Krebs Cycle (Citric Acid Cycle) which is essential for the metabolism of oxygen in every cell of every animal. It kills everything that breathes air, everything from earthworms to elephants, including native birds. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies 1080 as ‘Extremely Hazardous’, most countries ban it outright. NZ uses 85% of the world’s supply … I’m not sure what that means but I guess the world hasn’t figured out what a wonderful thing it really is.
Dr Q Whiting-OKeefe (BA Chemistry, Math), MD, FACMI
Poisoning our water
In Oct 2014 two of Auckland’s water supply lakes were closed for four months because the herbicide metsulfuron-methyl has been found in them. Soon afterwards, Auckland City Council announced that they planned to drop 1080 on the Hunua Ranges, the source of their water supply. The Greymouth Star reported on Oct 16 2014 that the West Coast Regional Council had admitted they have a $500,00 investment in a new factory that is considering themanufacture of 1080 near Christchurch. A metabolic poison, 1080 is extremely toxic to all air-breathing organisms. In most countries it is banned outright or severely restricted because of its lethality and its indiscriminate killing power. For further information on 1080 (NZ uses about 90% of the world’s production!) read here: http://ban1080.co.nz/1080-facts/
“One study in 2013 followed 34 monitored Kea in a poison-drop area. Five of them were found dead after the drop, and analysis confirmed 1080 as the cause of death. That’s a mortality rate of nearly 15%…
… nowhere in the article was there mention of the Kea’s significant risk to 1080 poison…”
One instance when silence is not golden …
A letter to the editor of the Dominion Post points out quite clearly here that mainstream media is guilty of omitting the blatantly obvious in their reporting… misleading the public perception of the reality of 1080 poison. If you care to examine the research on 1080 (the independent research, not that of those who justify 1080 use) you will find some serious holes with some serious leakage.
“The species is now on the brink of extinction” Dr Jo Pollard
“The New Zealand Government’s Department of Conservation (DoC) is embarking on its largest aerial poisoning programme ever this year and endangered kea (Nestor notabilis), NZ’s mountain parrot, are almost certain to die.
DoC has a very long history of poisoning kea. Aerial poisoning with food baits laced with sodium monofluoroacetate (“1080”) was found to be killing kea more than 50 years ago and the species is now on the brink of extinction. Although the government has made no attempt to formally assess numbers, some estimates in 1986 and 1992 were already as low as 1000 birds. There may be very few kea left. Complete absences are being reported in areas of human activity (tramping huts, ski fields, car parks) where they have traditionally gathered.
In DoC studies over the last decade, an average of 12% of marked kea have been reported dead immediately after aerial 1080 poisoning, with a range up to 78%. Now that DoC are embarking on even more intensive, more extensive 1080 poisoning, there seems to be little hope for the species’ survival in the wild.
How is it that a government department charged with conserving species can cause this carnage?
New Zealand’s conservation management has reached a critically low point where science and ecology have been abandoned in favour of feverish poisoning of “pest” species. Tellingly, DoC recently described itself as a “pest control agency”.
According to DoC, it is pests that are endangering kea, therefore the outcome of poisoning will be beneficial. There are serious flaws with this idea.
Firstly, aerial baiting with 1080 poison is very poor at controlling pests, including mice, rats and stoats. Mouse numbers rise almost immediately afterwards; it is thought mice may be able to detect the toxin in food baits and that they flourish because competing species are poisoned off. Rat numbers are usually (not always) low immediately after poisoning, but they breed and re-invade rapidly and within months are typically far more numerous than before, often reaching plague levels. Stoats are sometimes killed, sometimes not (they have to eat poisoned prey to die, because they do not eat the cereal baits), but survivors and invaders can flourish post-poisoning as numbers of their main prey species, rats and mice, escalate. Surviving stoats are also known to turn to eating native birds after poisoning, when rat numbers have suddenly plummeted.
DoC’s answer to this problem is to now increase the frequency and intensity of poisoning. It is planning to spread double the number of baits, then if there are surviving rats, repeat the double-sowing. However that strategy does not help with the problem of non-acceptance of poisoned baits by mice. Whether rat and stoat numbers will be better controlled is unknown. In previous DoC operations, and in other pest populations (flies, laboratory rats and rabbits) repeated 1080 poisoning has become increasingly less effective because pests have developed behavioural and/or genetic resistance. One thing is for sure- kea and other rare native species will be severely at risk.
Secondly, there is no scientific evidence that mammalian pests are the main cause of the kea’s demise as is being claimed by DoC. Its own studies and ornithological studies had previously concluded (in the 1960s, 1990s and last decade) that although living in the company of stoats, kea were “relatively immune” to predation.
In the last few years DoC has made an intensive effort to prove that stoats are a major predator of kea. The evidence that its much-vaunted, very expensive 1080 poisoning programmes are killing kea has been very inconvenient and it has done its best to create the illusion that 1080 actually helps kea.
But DoC’s recent documents show only spurious, indefensible figures based on “seed rain” and contortions of historic data. Hundreds of hours of camera surveillance inside and outside kea nests have produced very little evidence of predation: at the Kea Konvention in April this year we were repeatedly shown a photograph of a stoat that was “about to get” a nesting kea, and a video that failed to run. Even if DoC’s surveillance had shown lots of predation, nest monitoring in itself is known to attract predators and cause adults to abandon chicks so such “evidence” would be hopelessly biased.
So kea are set to disappear, and DoC is set to blame pests, rather than 1080 poisoning, for their demise. The public will be none the wiser unless they are interested and motivated enough to question DoC’s propaganda.
The plight of kea should cause alarm for anyone concerned about the fate of New Zealand’s ecological heritage. Not only birds, but all air-breathing organisms including bacteria, fungi, plants and invertebrates are affected by 1080 (it interferes with the Krebs cycle used in respiration).
The toxin has a marked ability to spread: in cereal dust and fragments created during aerial spreading, in poisoned animals, baits carried by animals, urine, faeces, carcasses and water. On DoC’s own admission, reliable data on poisoning death rates exist only for six endemic birds. Of those, two (fern birds Megalurus punctatus and kea) have been found to be poisoned in large numbers. What is happening to the rest of New Zealand’s endemic species?
Historical evidence of the destruction that 1080 wreaks. Time for this poison to be shelved.
Last month (article dated 2011 note) 7 out of the nine tagged Kea monitored by radio tagging during the recent North Okarito aerial 1080 drop were found dead.
DoC assured the public that 1080 bait types had been modified so Kea would not be affected. In fact, we think all they did was to reduce the wax content of the manufactured pellets in the assumption that they would be hard enough to deter the birds from eating them.
The iconic parrots, Kea and Kaka have very powerful beaks they use to tear apart tree limbs to access food. GO FIGURE~!
The recent post about 89 dead Kiwis that DOC didn’t bother to test for 1080 poisoning relates to this report of birds that actually were tested. Thanks to the person with a conscience who let the public know what is going on!
DOC has received $3.5 billion of taxpayer’s money in the past decade, and not a single endangered bird species is in recovery on mainland NZ. And they have another significant drop planned for 2016.
From Bill Wallace at stuff.co.nz
“DOC is currently preparing the New Zealand public for another massive aerial 1080 poisoning of our forests in winter 2016, supposedly in response to yet another beech mast.
Masts or good flowering years of beech trees and other native plants are normal sporadic events. Some native birds only breed in mast years, it’s the way of nature, fluctuations of populations in response to food supply and environmental conditions. The same natural fluctuations occur with introduced species.
Last year’s Battle for the Birds poisoned an area the size of Taranaki supposedly in response to a beech mast and rat plague. The beech mast was light to moderate in most areas, and rat numbers in high altitude areas were at zero at the time of the 1080 drop in many areas. 1080 is a cruel inhumane poison that effectively chemically strangles it’s victims to death over many hours for the birds or days for large mammals.”
“Aerial 1080 randomly scattered over vast areas of our bush and mountains, often in breach of DOC’s own scientist’s advice and Standards, is the “dirtiest and cruellest” pretence at Conservation amongst developed nations (personal observation).”