Tag Archives: penguins

Poison found in sealife samples THREE YEARS after an aerial brodifacoum poison operation (Ecocide Awareness NZ)

From Ecocide Awareness NZ

Staff from New Zealand Dept of Conservation are often employed as ‘consultants’ for overseas ‘pest’ eradication projects. One example of such an eradication attempt comes from Wake Atoll, known as ‘Wake Island’ – which is between Hawaii and Guam in the northern Pacific Ocean. It is made up of Wake, (525 ha), Peale (95 ha), and Wilkes Islands (76 ha).

Wake is an unincorporated U.S. territory that is managed by the Department of Defense, U.S. Air Force. About 70 people reside on Wake (military personnel and contractors). Wake has approximately 19 km of coastline and is an important breeding area for many species of seabirds.Importantly, the coastline is also fished by the local residents for sport and food.

In 2012 an aerial brodifacoum poisoning operation took place over the islands to try to eradicate rats. How long brodifacoum persists in the environment is unclear, but we know it can potentially affect the food chain. These residues may impact on fish that are caught by Wake Island residents for sport and consumption. Three months after the poisoning, 5 out of 48 samples had “detectable levels” of poison – toxicologists therefore recommended a 942 day fishing ban after initial testing was done. But how much longer would the pesticide be in the food chain?

In 2015 – THREE YEARS AFTER this aerial operation of brodifacoum – samples from various marine life were taken. The scientists found that some fish (1 of 8 bluefin trevally, and 4 of 4 blacktail snapper, all from within a lagoon) had low but detectable levels of brodifacoum residues.

The scientists suggest that outcomes from their investigation should provide a comprehensive idea of the risks of contamination in marine life over the longer term from using pesticides aerially. In the article, the authors state “All reasonable efforts should be made to minimize unnecessary environmental and nontarget exposures (e.g., through precise application methods) and all risk assessments must consider the specific context of proposed action [poisoning the environment].”

However, an aerial distribution from helicopter of a lethal poison can NEVER be ‘precise’. The environment and the residents’ health have been put at risk.Reference: Siers, Shane R.; Shiels, Aaron B.; Volker, Steven F.; Rex, Kristen; and Pitt, William C., “Brodifacoum residues in fish three years after an island-wide rat eradication attempt in the tropical Pacific” (2020). USDA National Wildlife Research Center – Staff Publications. 2313.https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/icwdm_usdanwrc/2313

Kathy White says: “Remember the Hauraki Gulf brodifacoum poison drop? The dead dolphins, penguins, dogs and toxic sea-slugs? And the DOC man interviewed on TV, lying about having tested the penguins and them being negative. Fortunately there was an astute journalist who probed and discovered they hadn’t tested them – they had just examined them. Years later, in Penny Fisher’s journal articles, it talked about detecting brodifacoum in the penguins and them thinking the penguins may have died of starvation. They did later studies on anticoagulant rodenticides in penguins and found more than 50% of South Island test subjects had at least one anticoagulant in them.”

Image 1: Wake Island aerial view. Source: Pinterest

Image 2: Brodifacoum baits Source: Wellington Council

#publichealth#pesticide#brodifacoum#ban1080#contamination#healthandsafety#toxicology#ecology#foodsafety#cleanwater

In 1984 the entire western weka population on NZ’s Tawhitinui Island was exterminated in a brodifacoum poison drop (important info here for hunters & fishermen)

Note:  Brodifacoum is a serious rat poison, an anti-coagulant which kills the things that eat it over a long period of time. It has secondary by-kill on animals / things that eat things that have been killed by it.  Instead of slathering poison everywhere it’s time surely that NZ considered eco friendly extermination of pests, given our clean green classification is long gone. So also is our edible wild food. And not only were all the wekas exterminated at Tawhitinui Island, but the following also:

  • Nearly 60% of the Tawharanui Regional Park dotterel population died through eating brodifacoum baits and poisoned sand-hoppers (2004)
  • Brodifacoum residues continued to be found in wildlife more than 24 months after the brodifacoum poison drop in and around the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project in Nelson (2005)
  • The Rangitoto and Motutapu Island eradication by-kill included dolphins, penguins, fish, numerous dogs and birds
  • Vast numbers of dead mussels washed up on Waiheke Island up to five months after the poison drop
  • Hundreds of dead birds also washed up on Coromandel Peninsula beaches in the months following (2009)
  • More than 10,000 seagulls were killed in Shakespear Regional Park (2011)

EnvirowatchRangitikei

Photo: Wikipedia


 

Huge by-kill of brodifacoum poison

I don’t live in Nelson so dropping 26.5 tonnes of brodifacoum poison into the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary won’t affect me directly, but I care a lot about New Zealand wildlife. I’m the Waikato Regional Councillor for Taupo-Rotorua, and the current Chair of the Environmental and Services Performance Committee.

ACRE, a group that advises Waikato Regional Council, asked councillors to look into our use of brodifacoum during our last Long Term Plan. They were concerned about the bio-accumulation and persistence of brodifacoum in wildlife, and the implications for our food chain. Our EPC Chair at the time, Clyde Graf, agreed to a review.

We invited Penny Fisher, a scientist at Landcare Research to give us readings about brodifacoum and other second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide residues in wildlife. She did a teleconference with our committee; We gathered information from other councils and government agencies and we looked at what’s happening overseas.

A lot of the New Zealand data about brodifacoum by-kill concerned me:

The entire western weka population was exterminated in a brodifacoum drop on Tawhitinui Island (1984); Nearly 60% of the Tawharanui Regional Park dotterel population died through eating brodifacoum baits and poisoned sand-hoppers (2004); Brodifacoum residues continued to be found in wildlife more than 24 months after the brodifacoum poison drop in and around the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project in Nelson (2005); The Rangitoto and Motutapu Island eradication by-kill included dolphins, penguins, fish, numerous dogs and birds. Vast numbers of dead mussels washed up on Waiheke Island up to five months after the poison drop. Hundreds of dead birds also washed up on Coromandel Peninsula beaches in the months following (2009); More than 10,000 seagulls were killed in Shakespear Regional Park (2011);

Blue cod, mussels, limpets and birds had brodifacoum residues in them after the Ulva Island drop, prompting restrictions on harvesting. Dead robin nestlings on the island were found to have brodifacoum residues, indicating that poisoned invertebrates had been fed to the young birds. Nearly 90% of the weka population was also killed (2011); Brodifacoum and other anticoagulant residues were found in freshwater fish, eels and sediment in Southland (2012); After Great Mercury Island was poisoned, 16 dead seals and a multitude of birds and fish washed up dead on Coromandel beaches (2014); A Landcare Research study of road-killed harrier hawks revealed 78% of those tested had at least one anticoagulant rodenticide in them. Some had as many as four different types. Brodifacoum was common.

It’s dangerous stuff, no doubt.

I asked Auckland Council for the results of their monitoring of feral pigs on islands in the Hauraki Gulf. The reply stated that 13 out of 14 pigs tested positive for brodifacoum residues. Brodifacoum has now been confirmed in fish, shellfish, pigs, bats, deer, eels and birds across New Zealand, which is a concern for those who hunt and fish. There’s also concern for those who commercially harvest wildlife. MPI notified a restricted procurement area for feral pigs in Marlborough due to high levels of brodifacoum residues in pig livers in 2004.

Why would we use brodifacoum when our own scientists have expressed concern about residues persisting in the environment?

Penny Fisher said in 2013 in her Overview/Summary – Environmental Residues of Anticoagulants Used for Pest Control, 10 June 2013.

“There is increasing evidence that uses of anticoagulants for both household rodent control and field pest management are resulting in widespread contamination of both terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. The latter is presumably through carcasses of poisoned animals entering waterways ….”

According to MPI, brodifacoum is the most inhumane toxin we’ve got, causing pain and suffering for days to weeks before an animal succumbs to internal haemorrhaging. Apart from the lethal effects, brodifacoum also causes sub-lethal reproductive and developmental damage. Would you choose to use brodifacoum if you knew it was also going to harm and kill the native species you’re trying to protect?

Personally, I’d prefer to find another method of pest control that’s acceptable to the Nelson community. There are plenty of alternatives.

Kathy White is the Waikato Regional Councillor for Taupo-Rotorua and the current Chair of the Environmental and Services Performance Committee. This is her personal view.

READ MORE

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1709/S00012/huge-by-kill-of-brodifacoum-poison.htm