The new move by Predator Free 2050 to eradicate cats. A new insidiously inhumane killer poison on a par with 1080 in terms of cruelty is already being trialed in the Hawke’s Bay.
Thanks to The Truth About 1080 Poison Facebook page for the link to this article from Bob Kerridge. Bob has had a long and distinguished professional career in animal welfare, during which time he has been responsible for many creative and innovative initiatives that have enhanced the status and welfare of animals in the New Zealand community. You can read more about him at the end of the article.
As requested by Bob I’m adding an image he supplied.
COMPANION ANIMALS IN AOTEAROA
OPINION – Bob Kerridge, Animal Welfarist.
The average peace-loving New Zealander may not be aware of it but, apparently, we are at war. If you find this difficult to comprehend, and a little frightening, for verification you need go no further than listen to the war-like rhetoric emanating from the people at Predator Free-2050.
This new, but generously funded, movement has a clear mission: To be rid of all predators, (whatever or whoever they may be), by the year 2050, with its website calling us to arms urging us to ‘unite to fight’. The dialogue from command headquarters tells us that the ‘threat of invasion is here’ but that “we have an army of tens of thousands of New Zealanders’ to undertake ‘a military campaign to push the invaders back, just as we did in the last two world wars’.
This disturbing talk exemplifies a dangerous path down which we are being led which could result in an ecological disaster because of this new-found obsession to become predator free. In a recently published paper two eminent ecologists, Professor Wayne Linklater and Dr Jamie Steer, are critical of the methodology being employed: ‘While Predator Free-2050 is well intentioned’, they concluded, ‘New Zealand’s future conservation policies need to be less bombastic, and better informed by the environmental, ecological and social sciences’. In a separate interview Linklater went further when he stated that New Zealanders would regard being ‘cruelty free’ a far greater goal than ‘predator free’, an aspiration with which I totally concur.
Not surprisingly the troops being deployed to free us of all these predators is the Department of Conservation, (DoC), who of course are willing and able to do the job. In my naivety I used to believe that conservation meant preserving our special and unique biodiversity, until I heard the previous Minister, Maggie Barry, proudly proclaiming for all to hear that ‘my guys at Doc are incredibly good at killing things’. Given there are many dedicated individuals employed by DoC who labour long and hard to preserve the lives of many of our endangered species, and more power to them, this was a foolish and heartless statement to make. It is little wonder that a number of previously employed high-ranking scientists are describing the current atmosphere at DoC as ‘toxic’ with a ‘culture of war and a lot of discontent’.
Dr Arian Wallach of the University of Technology, Sydney, and Fellow of the Charles Darwin University, described the essence of conservation succinctly when she stated: ‘The aim of conservation is not to generate an ever increasing (dead) body count, but to guide human behaviours to enable the rest of the earth’s species to flourish’.
The major weapon in DoC’s vast armoury, and akin to the H-bomb, is sodium fluoroacetate, (1080), a cheap and particularly nasty pesticide which is as indiscriminate in whom it targets as it is efficient in killing them. Registered as the most toxic pesticide by the World Health Organisation it was the only chemical weapon reportedly found in Saddam Hussein’s arsenal. 1080 is outlawed in a large number of countries, but to our absolute shame New Zealand has been using it since it was first trialled here in 1954. Despite growing public abhorrence, we are now purchasing 80% of the total supply, making us by far the largest user in the world.
The evils of 1080 are well documented including its permanent effect on our flora and fauna, destroying micro-organisms and insects, (the diet of many birds), the contamination of our waterways, human health risks, the slow and agonising death of untargeted animals, (both large and small), and also, ironically, many of the native birds it’s meant to be protecting. And yet, despite this history I am told that last year 350 million poison baits were dropped on our little country, thus perpetuating what can only be described as a national disgrace.
So just who are these invaders that, as Predator Free-2050 advocates, need this military effort to defeat ‘because it is a very insidious war they have waged’ against us’? The irony is that these so-called invading species have no ability or desire to declare war, or any concept of what is being plotted against them, or why, neither have they the ability to protect themselves or fight back. In fact it’s a bit of a one-sided war, rather more a premeditated annihilation I would suggest.
In reality the selection of predators that need to be killed is at the behest of the greatest predator of them all, humans, either because we just don’t like them, or they are introduced species and not native to our shores, or we have the mistaken belief that if we exterminate them our ecology will be rescued from certain peril. In general the reasons are unscientific and immoral, as are the weapons used against them.
Unbelievably the latest animal to be selected as a targeted predator will astound and horrify most people, but will delight rats, and Gareth Morgan. In an incredulous move the current Minister of Conservation, Eugene Sage, wants to see Kiwi wandering the urban gardens of Wellington, which would not exactly be their choice of where they would wish to reside given the human dangers associated with urban living and their lack of natural bush protection to which they are accustomed. The Minister noted that to achieve this urban dream cats would have to go, parroting the demands of the insidious ‘cats to go’ campaign, requiring ‘having cats inside, and when your cat dies then not replacing it’. So it’s cats or kiwis.
Local and Regional Councils throughout New Zealand, who have never before shown any interest in cats, are now wanting to illegally label them as ‘pest cats’ so they can be destroyed without question, again acceding to Morgan’s dictate that ‘any cat that is free to range should be a dead cat’.
That constitutes another declaration of war, and of course weapons of mass destruction exist, especially for cats. This one comes in the form of the unpronounceable para-aminopropiophenone, or PAPP as it is generally known, currently and unashamedly being trialled by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. PAPP is as hideous as 1080 coming in the form of a paste which, once ingested, starts a process of dying which is inhumane and painfully slow, with death averaging an horrendous 3 hours and 51 seconds to occur. During the process signs of toxicosis occur, (head nodding, lethargy, uncontrolled movement and lack of balance), eventually advancing to unresponsiveness and collapse but fully conscious and aware, with final unconsciousness occurring only moments before death.
The persecution of cats, the country’s most popular and adored companion animal, is as unfathomable as it is without foundation. Ecologist Gary J Patonec, (USA), commented: ‘What I find inconsistent in an otherwise scientific debate about biodiversity is how the indictment of cats has been pursued in spite of the evidence’.
I have to question, just what is the motivation that drives people to hate so vehemently that they are quite content in subjecting cats and other sentient beings to such extremes of torture before killing them? But remember we are, apparently, at war and the conservation soldiers are doing it to make the world a better place being totally oblivious to the probable ecological consequences of their extermination practices. The slaughter of one species on the pretext of saving another for the greater good in the name of conservation is reprehensible.
Predator Free-2050 claims to have an ‘army of tens of thousands of New Zealanders’, many of them recruited from children whose schools have received money and complimentary traps if they accede to the terms and conditions of war. Others are equally innocent urban families where the aim is to have ‘a trap in every fifth backyard across New Zealand’ which is creating a generation who, and I am quoting ‘find killing animals weirdly addictive’.
Such a trend is deeply disturbing and I wonder where, in contrast, is the public outrage? Because these trends are often introduced under stealth perhaps people are not aware of where this war is leading us, what weapons of mass destruction are being used, or what the consequences will be. And where are the mechanisms in place that will protect animals from such abuse, or are there none? Are we just going to sit back and watch New Zealanders fall into moral decay?
French ornithologist Jean Dorst conveys some sobering and relevant words of wisdom: ‘Whatever the metaphysical position is adopted and whatever place is given to the human species, man has no right to destroy a species of plant of animal on the pretext that it is useless. We have no right to exterminate what we have not created’.
I have no hesitation in adding my heartfelt support to that sentiment, as my dream for our country has always been that we respect and love all life, and that humans, animals and the environment can coexist in harmony, in addition to a belief that we can, if it is our will, realise that dream. Keep believing.
Bob Kerridge can be contacted on:
He resides in Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay
Bob Kerridge has had a long and distinguished professional career in animal welfare, during which time he has been responsible for many creative and innovative initiatives that have enhanced the status and welfare of animals in the New Zealand community.
During his tenure of 32 years with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (SPCA), Bob Kerridge assumed many roles including Chief Executive, Executive Director and member of the Board. He was a National Councillor with the Royal NZ SPCA, eventually becoming its National President, and was also a Director of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, (WSPA). He was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 and promoted to Officer of the Order for services to animal welfare and governance in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2018.
He has recently established a Fellowship to seek positive and harmonious solutions for animals, humans and the environment.