Well,well, well…..it seems that when people look up HeliOtago Ltd, at least one of the photos they get is this one I took of one of their rescue helicopters, ZK-IME, dropping 1080 poison at Makarora, Mt Aspiring National Park, on February 23, 2017.Google has just congratulated me and told me the photo has had 10,176 views and it appears to be tied to the Google Maps ‘HeliOtago Ltd’ location ID.Google said “10,000Hi Carol,10,000 photo views—that’s something to be proud of!Thanks for adding photos to Google Maps—they are helping others make decisions about the things worth doing and places worth seeing. Keep it up!” Things worth doing ?!!!! Dropping 1080 poison ?! Google is nuts!
On 11th and 12th February, 2020, 1080 poison was dropped by helicopter in the Matukituki Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park. The loading zone was on Mt Aspiring Station, in a paddock beside a public road. Three helicopters belonging to Way to Go Heliservices Ltd, and two JJ Nolan Transport Ltd trucks were there, as well as support staff and security.
1) Spillage…..in photos here you can see baits have been dropped on the grass (grass later to be eaten by stock, no doubt) and two workers are picking them up and tossing them into an already overloaded hopper.
2) Crazy behaviour by helicopter company…..the helicopter pilot in ZK-HKW has bare legs and face and hands!!! What part of ‘deadly Class 1A ecotoxin’ do these guys not understand? Do they think skull-and-crossbones signs are just for pirate ships?
3) The food chain….. a mob of sheep are driven past the drop as it is happening, along the road beside the loading zone, film crew in attendance. I wonder if they filmed the poison operation!
4) “Baits might sting when they hit you” ….tourists and trampers who had called into the DoC office prior to coming up the valley were surprised to see a 1080 operation underway. They reported that DoC Wanaka had not informed them that would be happening. I was told that, when asked about this, a DoC staffer at the drop said it was OK to be inside a 1080 drop but the baits might hurt a bit if they hit them.
This has been the standard DoC Wanaka stance since the 2014 operation it seems. Tourists visiting the DoC Wanaka office on the day before the December 2, 2014 aerial 1080 drop on the Matukituki catchment reported to me that they were told they could go into the drop zone on the day of the 1080 drop but that “the baits weigh as much as a $2 coin” and might sting if they hit them. DoC Wanaka even stated this in an article in the Otago Daily Times in 2014! https://www.odt.co.nz/…/1080-poison-drop-matukituki-valleys…
5) No proper signage….there were NO poison warning signs up on the day of the drop… only the map of the drop zone and a sign explaining DoC’s ‘Battle for Our Birds’ programme.
6) Hiding ID…..At least one of the security guards present had covered his ID number with tape so it couldn’t be seen…. more on that later in a separate post.
PS: Please note this is not the area where female tramper, Stephanie Simpson, sadly lost her life recently… as some are speculating. My thoughts are with her UK family. It has been so sad to think of their receiving that first phone call that their daughter was missing, and now the worst news of all.
DoC WANAKA STILL HAVE SAME CARELESS ATTITUDE TO 1080 POISON THAT THEY DID IN 2014!! MATUKITUKI VALLEY, MT ASPIRING NATIONAL PARK
“While the toxic pellets are targeting rats, stoats and possums, they each weigh the same as a $2 coin and a department spokeswoman advised park concessionaires yesterday they presented a danger to people on the ground.
”Therefore, for safety reasons, it is strongly recommended that people avoid entering the pest control area while the helicopter operation is taking place,” she said.” Otago Daily Times, 24 November, 2014
The baits might hurt if they hit you ?! Note the ODT article doesn’t say who “SHE” is, but one can presume it is DoC Wanaka spokesperson at the time, Annette Grieve.
This article was indeed verified when tourists reported to me, in the days prior to the aerial 1080 toxic bait drop on December 2, 2014, that they had called into the local DoC office and were told they could go into the drop zone on the day of the 1080 drop but that “the baits weigh as much as a $2 coin and might hurt if they hit you”.
MATUKITUKI VALLEY AERIAL 1080 DROP, (11th and 12th February, 2020)
The story is still the same. Again, in last week’s 1080 drop of 11th and 12th February, 2020, tourists reported that they had called into the DoC Wanaka office before coming into the Matukituki Valley and were not told a 1080 poison drop was happening. Joel Lund asked a DoC staffer at the loading zone about it, and he repeated DoC Wanaka’s party line…. that the baits might sting if they hit you.
No poison warning signage was in place. Is this a policy of the Wanaka area ? The same thing happened at last year’s OSPRI 1080 poison drop at Luggate… no 1080 poison warning signage!
Photo: Alpine Helicopters Ltd of Wanaka at aerial 1080 poison operation, Matukituki Valley, Mt Aspiring National Park, 2014
Helicopters used to save human lives are hired to poison deer in the Mt Aspiring National Park.
It’s the peak of the tourism season, and the Department of Conservation aerially spread 1080 poison bait across 38,000 hectares of the waterways the visiting trampers are drinking from. Hear what they have to say … [WATCH VIDEO]
Thank you to the Graf brothers for another excellent record of what is happening with this poison in our once clean green land.
The disturbing thing about this use of the rescue helicopters is, how well cleaned are they before carrying people? I have read from other bloggers of an incident where a plane was left on a grass runway overnight before being cleaned & sheep grazing around it overnight died. Okay this is only anecdotal evidence however enough to ring the warning bells. This surely cannot be a 100% safe practice carrying both deadly poison AND sick people.
In the case of Otago there was controversy in October last year (2016) when concerns about this use of rescue helicopters were raised.
Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust manager Ken Franklin said “the trust had two dedicated rescue helicopters which were used only for rescue missions.
Two back-up helicopters owned by Helicopter Otago, which the trust used when its main two were busy, were being used to drop 1080. “SOURCE This was also amidst allegations of alleged threats from 1080 protesters.
On that note, it’s reiterated here, we don’t in any way endorse violence or violent protest. But we do believe that people have a right to the truth. With correct information informed choices can be made. And bear in mind regarding allegations of threats of violence, corporations think nothing of lying as experts explain in the the excellent exposé of corporate behaviour ‘The Corporation’ movie (viewable HERE). Watch it and educate yourself.
Visit our 1080 pages at the main menu for further information on 1080, see especially the sub page for a long and comprehensive list of links and resources. Use ‘Categories’ to find articles on the topic.
We did a great job of poisoning the tourists yesterday. The NZ Department of Conservation and HeliOtago are to be commended! ( Don’t get upset – I am being ironic)
At Makarora, Mt Aspiring National Park, an area of unsurpassed beauty on the eastern side of the Southern Alps, yesterday, 23 February, 2017, HeliOtago dropped 76 tonnes of one of the world’s deadliest poisons, Compound 1080, in a DoC “Battle for Our Birds” operation. 1080 has no antidote.
The Blue Pools Walk is a short walk accessed from the main highway, State Highway 6, and is extraordinarily popular with tourists who want a break and a cool bush-walk after driving over the Haast Pass from South Westland. They also often want a swim on a hot day, and I am told tour-bus drivers encourage them to swim and to jump off the bridge at the Blue Pools. Link: https://www.lakewanaka.co.nz/explore/blue-pools-track
The loadout zone at Cameron Flat is seven minutes up the road from the little village of Makarora.
“Yesterday morning the river directly above the Blue Pools was poisoned, along with the rest of the area – Makarora, Wilkin, Young, Blue Valleys, and all the streams that flow into the Makarora River and also end up in Lake Wanaka.”
By 10.00 am two security officers had cleared the track to the Blue Pools. One had no gloves on, so she just kicked the baits to the side of the track. The other had gloves so he picked them up and tossed them into the undergrowth. It wasn’t much of an effort. One tourist told me he had seen two baits on the track and another showed me film of baits at the side of the track.
“1080 is a broad-spectrum poison: it kills all oxygen-breathing animals and organisms. This alone is reason enough to cease dispersing it into the environment. It indiscriminately kills and contaminates everything from the insects that underpin the native fauna food chain to precious native birds, dogs and farm animals.” Dr Meriel Watts
A Makarora local, who was on the track at the time they were dropping the 1080 poison yesterday morning, told me the helicopter that went over his head zig-zagged above the Blue Pools, dropping 1080 poison, and the baits went into the water directly above the Blue Pools. The chopper also went along the edge of the Makarora River, along the bushline, dropping 1080 baits so they were flung out into the Makarora River too. None of the streams had designated buffer zones and so they were poisoned directly, BUT the Wilkin, Young and Makarora Rivers were supposed to have buffer zones. Therefore at least one, the designated bait-free zone around the Makarora River, was poisoned, even if unintentionally.
I spent most of yesterday afternoon at the entrance to the Blue Pools track. So did Shane Wilson and his father Ron. There was a constant stream of tourists. As they went in and as they came out we asked them if they knew about 1080 poison, and when the inevitable “No” was the reply, we handed them an explanatory ( and completely factual, and non-emotive ) flier, and then answered their many questions.
They were stunned – seriously ! There were no signs saying the poison had been dropped that morning. They didn’t understand that it was an aerial drop. They didn’t know what all the helicopters were doing.( There were seven helicopters swinging buckets and it sounded at times like I imagine the Vietnam War must have sounded ). They asked me : Is there a fire ? Are they mining ? Are they building something in the forest ?
One man, in appalled disbelief, came up to me and asked if he could show me film he had taken of a helicopter ” so close to people !” He had a young child on his shoulders. The helicopter was a speck on a ridge and THAT shocked him ? Those choppers had been swinging out so much closer to people than he had witnessed !
One young Swedish man was extremely distressed. He had swum in the water and was very upset when he found out about the poison. I said “Look you will be fine. You swam in it. You didn’t drink it”. Then he said he had been drinking it !
So had his girlfriend – from the Czech Republic.
I spoke to Indians, Brazilians, French, Germans, Scandinavians, Czechs, Danes, Dutch, most of whom understood English, or at least one of their number did and translated for the others, English, Americans, Australians, Canadians. ( Not, however, the Chinese. Malaysians, etc – I tried to talk to them but most didn’t speak English and went away as happily oblivious to poison as when they arrived !)
It was quite a business explaining why the government was dropping 1080 poison and why it was totally unnecessary but – when you tell people we drop 90% of the world’s supply and that it is killing EVERYTHING, not just the species they want to eradicate, and that stoats are not interested in 1080 baits ( when speaking to tourists ‘weasel’ seems to be an understood word, but ‘stoats’ not – so if you say ‘an animal like a weasel’, they mostly understand ), and that it is banned in many parts of the world, and that it is poisoning our land and we can no longer eat our wild food and that we have been dropping it for over 60 years and that we have had rats for 700 years and stoats for 150 and, and, and…..
Shane Wilson‘s ‘1080 drum’ with a roadkill possum doe that he came across en route, on top – beautiful fur, freshly killed, and undamaged – a drawcard for curious tourists. I couldn’t stop stroking her. She was all warm in the sun. She had a lucky escape ! She wouldn’t have known a thing, not like the poor possies dying in Makarora in agony right now ! Photo: Carol Sawyer
Shane Wilson’s Dad, Ron ( they had driven four hours from Otautau to be there, setting off at 1.30 am ), and Ray Thompson, ( who had driven for three hours from from Whataroa ). Some anti-1080 people show total passion and dedication. Photo: Carol Sawyer
What surprised me was the intense interest. I was watchful for glazed-over eyes and polite departures but no… the questions poured in and so many people said ” What can we do to help ?!!” An Englishman, who sounded a bit like Prince Charles, was looking at the loadout zone and he said to me ” I hate this sort of thing ! ”
When I was asked how they could help, I said to people: “Take photos of those helicopters. Explain to your friends on social media. Write letters to major NZ newspapers, stating your shock and upset and disbelief at seeing what is happening in a land you regarded as clean and green and 100% pure. Don’t write to the NZ government – the letter will end up in the bin. A letter to a newspaper, from an international visitor”, I said, “is worth more than 100 letters from New Zealanders”
So many said ” But we thought you were clean, green… “
I told them about the film “Poisoning Paradise”. I told them to look it up on Google. I said it had won four international film festival awards and it has not been allowed to be shown on National TV in NZ.
I told them to go to the websites and Facebook pages on the flier I gave them.
I know some of them will – they were truly SHOCKED !
What is the matter with you, Maggie Barry and the Dept of Conservation? How dare you drop 1080 poison in our rivers and not tell tourists NOT to drink the water – only one hour later !!!!!!! NO signs, NO staff, NO care !
“Animal Control Products” ( recently given the more obscure name “Orillion” ), the NZ state-owned factory, has a 1080 warning label which states ” Avoid pollution of any water supply with pellets” and states that the pellets are harmful to aquatic organisms.