From Carol Sawyer
HOLLYFORD AERIAL 1080 DROP, OCTOBER 2017 – DISASTROUS RESULTS !
(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.)
This 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 have 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.
However, now things have changed and, five months on, the rat plague that is to be eventually expected after a 1080 drop, of triple and even quadruple previous rat numbers, (not that the Dept of Conservation will publicly admit to this), has started.
Three weeks ago the traps were cleared and contained 32 rats. Interestingly, some of the traps had two rats in them, which is apparently unusual.
Last weekend’s 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 have NEVER been caught here in these numbers before !
Add to this the fact that the rats being caught recently are all young rats, this means that a veritable rat plague is on its way, and by the time the anniversary of this virgin 1080 drop comes around this October, a rat plague is what people in the area will be witnessing !
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 relatively recent 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.
There has not been a Morepork or a Kaka seen or heard since the 1080 drop five months ago. ( The “generator” Morepork was also obviously killed by the poison. ) Fantail numbers have taken a major dive, as the insect population has, of course, decreased and consequently the fantails are short of food.
A local helicopter company has had reports, recently, from hunters it transports into hunting areas that deer numbers are ‘low to non-existent’ since the drop.
It is reported that a big pond in the Hollyford River, above Gunn’s Camp, which always had trout, now has none.
FINANCIAL COST OF THIS DISASTER :
This would be very hard to ascertain. Even an OIA request won’t do it, or at least not in the least accurately.
( Take for example the aborted 1080 operation at Makarora, Mt Aspiring National Park, in 2015, where prefeed baits were dropped, but far too late in the year and winter set in so the poison part of the operation never went ahead. The 66 tonnes of poison had to be retrucked back to the North Island and buried in a landfill (it was rumoured to be in Marton). DoC Wanaka claimed the total cost of that farce was $187,000 but figures i spent a long time working on showed the true cost to be well in excess of $1 million – even before the relocation of 1080 back for burial in the North Island ).
HOWEVER, I was told by a very reliable source ( a local helicopter pilot ) that HeliOtago received $1.2 million for this 40,000 hectare aerial 1080 drop in the Hollyford Valley, Fiordland National Park, last October. That of course was only a fraction of the total cost.
Gunn’s Camp – Photo Michael Venter
Kaka – Photo Birding NZ
Morepork ( Ruru ) and young – NZ Birds Online
Gunn’s Camp – Photo Forthloveoftravel
Fantail – Photo Birding NZ
Hollyford River at Gunn’s camp – Photo Earth Burners