“Admin are extremely concerned for public health and safety now that almost the entire West Coast of South Island is currently covered in deadly pesticides – mainly 1080, and also cyanide and others poisons, aerial and distributed by hand. From Kohaihai Bluff, North of Oparara River, all the way down to Wanganui Bluff, near Poerua River, around Hari Hari – there are multiple poison operations in and around the coasts, rivers, estuaries and forests. And astonishingly, even more are planned. This presents a high risk of contamination of drinking water and our food chains. As New Zealanders travel around our country during the Christmas holidays, often for the first time – we URGE people to be aware, to take precautions and to share your knowledge of the pesticide risks with others. Remember: 1080 poison has NO ANTIDOTE. If you have internet coverage where you are – much of the West Coast sadly does not – check Dept of Conservation Pesticide Summary interactive maps, alongside the regional councils and Ospri websites. If you do not have access to the internet, please visit your local council and DoC office (if they are open to the public) and insist that the staff find out whether an area is contaminated. Do NOT rely on signage as this is often missing, unhelpful and/or illegible.” ____________________________________________________________________________
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
Thanks to reader Jo Blogs for this link… (for background info read this post):
“Those nearby, and back on the mainland, reacted instantly and humanely. They ran, flew, and sped by boat toward the danger. Politicians and officials have praised these as “first responders”. Their use of the phrase was a dishonest attempt to hide that these people were not official first responders, but ordinary people. “
OPINION: The tragedy at Whakaari/White Island last week exposed a growing institutional cowardice among emergency services, particularly police, that affects their usefulness to citizens.
When the eruption occurred, and the emergency calls started on Monday afternoon, police and rescue services decided that they would not head to the island to help.
It was left to my fellow citizens to respond with māia (courage). Those nearby, and back on the mainland, reacted instantly and humanely. They ran, flew, and sped by boat toward the danger.
Politicians and officials have praised these as “first responders”. Their use of the phrase was a dishonest attempt to hide that these people were not official first responders, but ordinary people.
Mark Law, a helicopter pilot with Kāhu NZ, heard that emergency services were not heading to White Island. He and others, including Tim Barrow and colleagues from Volcanic Air, flew out and landed on the island. They rescued some survivors – particularly members of the group that had been closest to the erupting crater.
Law hauntingly describes the island soon after the eruption as “silent”. The air permeated by gases and ground dusted with ash. Survivors, their burns awful to comprehend, weakly called for help. Our untrained heroes were there for them. Our trained rescue services were not.
When police finally got their act together, they used their authority to prevent further private rescues or body recovery.
Let’s assume that, as some people seem to be arguing, it is OK for state professionals, trained for, paid for, and possibly even keen to respond to emergencies, to refuse to attend one.
It does not follow that they can prevent others from assessing risk differently and taking it. But I believe that the official cordon was a kind of post-incident justification for managerial cowardice.
Police also used an official flight over the island, and brief landing on it, to provide “evidence” justifying their decisions. These flights usefully allowed officials to claim there were no signs of life, and that conditions on the island were not conducive to a rescue.
The flight did not see all the bodies. The helicopter crew that landed and concluded unsafe conditions was clearly wrong, as brave people had already landed and effected a rescue.
The state made a big deal about the risk in recovery of bodies. GNS estimated the risk of a second eruption at higher than 50 per cent. Police used that percentage, and the GNS risk zone maps, to justify the decision not to recover bodies. Neither of these are go/don’t go assessments. The complexity of the volcano, and the uncertainty built into those numbers, means they are not thresholds for action.
Despite the risk and continued “level 2” status, daring Defence Force teams finally undertook a speedy recovery of most of the bodies. Then the police claimed the same conditions meant there could be no further recovery action.
The GNS risk measurements were a prop. The decision to go in was based on very human factors: personnel who are ready to volunteer, families who are waiting, international attention, and politicians not enjoying the public pressure.
When, in 2012, I criticised police prevention of rescue of workers at Pike River mine, I blamed the insidious creep of “managerialism”; a preference for process over action. Cultural trends, such as fixations on health and safety, infect management systems with an endless loop of passing responsibility.
The response to the White Island tragedy is a stark insight into the continued creep of managerialism. It undermines the ability of state services to help citizens, but empowers it to infantilise us.
We’re discouraged from acting on our own, and forced to bow to experts. Yet systems and fancy talk prevent experts taking substantive action for fear of career, safety, or arbitrary consequences for taking the “wrong” action. In these environments, there are no career prospects for heroes.
What White Island tells you is that, when disaster occurs, you really are on your own. It may be time for citizens to make private provision for security and emergency; collectively or commercially purchasing or organising policing, rescue and fire response.
The state’s sophistication has cemented inaction. The police and government are turning cowardice into a professional duty. I see no value in paying for it through my taxes. It certainly makes them unfit to tell us what to do.
As citizens, it is down to us to help ourselves. To paraphrase our brave pilot Mark Law: “We must take care of our own business.”
* Mark Blackham is a director of Wellington-based BlacklandPR.
DEPT OF CONSERVATION TELLS TOURISM COMPANY OFF – Skippers are not to warn tourists about the dangers of drinking the water after aerial 1080 drop in Milford Sound area yesterday.
Milford Sound (Arthur, Sinbad and Cleddau Valleys) was aerially poisoned on 15 October, 2019.
Pam Vernon reports (15 October, 2019) “A reader at the Envirowatch Rangitikei site today commented about warning the tourists on the dangers of drinking the water: “Hi there my brother works as a skipper for one of the biggest tourism companys in Milford and one of the skippers warned the customers on the mic and a doc member was on the boat and got seriously offended called her boss then doc warned the company gave them a chewing. The company forced all skippers to say nothing at all or risk consequences. The company is afraid of the bad side of doc because that’s who gives them there consent to cruise in Milford. Blackmail against freedom of speech. This is real as of the other day.”
Another person said, (14 October, 2019, 1080 Eyewitness):
“DOC poisoning operation in Milford tomorrow
Who the hell gives DOC the right to poison our only water supply, the Bowen Falls?
650,000 tourists come here every year to view this pristine environment, if only they knew….. “
I’m told the Bowen Falls are in the drop zone, and the whole township at Milford Sound and all the tourist boats are supplied by water from that source.
OIA responses from Southern DHB and DoC state there is a buffer zone round the Milford water intake which they regard as sufficient. See attached, (plus maps from original notification of the drop).
The Milford Sound water intake is approximately 200m above the Bowen Falls, and I’m told the intake is only about 100m inside the top end of the buffer zone (yellow area on map). Helicopters were seen working along that face. Helicopter pilots tell me 250m is a minimum buffer zone for safety, and more if on a slope, as baits tumble into valleys. Poisoned carcasses will inevitably end up in that waterway, as well, providing further contamination.
“The Bowen River catchment valley is rather like a giant granite bath, with very little top soil, and average rainfall of 7000mm per annum. Together with winter temperatures, ice and snow melt, this will likely increase the risk of 1080 arriving at the intake at the same time and breaking down much more slowly.”
and of the 2017 drop at Milford Sound he says:
“The water quality testing (pg 6 of DOC’s operational report 5.2.2) revealed the presence of 1080 at 1ppb.”
Put it this way… I wouldn’t be drinking that water !
According to Leslie McGrath, the Dept of Conservation will not take water tankers in to supply safe water because it is “too expensive” ! However the Department’s response to a request for alternative water supply is at the bottom of page 3 in their OIA response attached.
Remember, this is what Milford local Sacha Stevenson recently wrote to DoC about. No warning signs for tourists. Turns out they won’t be putting any up about the water, just the usual signs with the skull on to warn them since they haven’t resources to put signs up in every tourist’s language. Signs will only indicate pellets, not the risk of water contamination. And the other rationale cited, that it’s ‘extremely unlikely’ the water will be poisoned. Whatever happened to the precautionary principle? Not good enough. EWR
By Carol Sawyer Video by Shane Wilson
“Oh well”, says the NZ government, “They’re Chinese. They don’t know any different. What do we care?!”
It’s appalling actually. No self-respecting Kiwi (on second thoughts there might be a few) would drink out of those creeks in the middle of a 1080 poison drop – or afterwards. Shane Wilson watched as four busloads of tourists stopped there on “Aerial 1080 Poison Day” and filled up their water bottles. They probably thought the helicopters were taking tourists for a joyride! Shane tried to warn some of them but they didn’t understand him.
Impending Milford Sound 1080 drop (Southland Cleddau area)
By Sacha Stevenson
1080 – It’s nothing new to most Kiwis. Opinions are divided.
The last aerial drop of 1080 here was only two years ago. Before the last drop (although I wasn’t working in Milford at the time) there was some community consultation, including a Q & A session with the Department of Conservation (DoC) – the lead agency involved with the drop in this region. I understand some local workers and one Iwi objected, but the drop went ahead anyway, including into the public water supply catchment area.
The next drop in the Southland Cleddau/Milford Sound area is scheduled for between Aug 1st and Dec 2019 and, just like the Sept 2017 drop, this again includes dropping 1080 into the water supply.
(See map below clipped 4 July 2019 from the online DOC map.)
In my opinion, the community here has not had an honest open forum to voice their say on the next scheduled drop (and every opinion is valid) but much worse, even if we get to have our say, chances are high that the tourists will be left uninformed.
There are many aspects to this topic, many already discussed. One of the main aspects here being in regards to the Public Health Unit (PHU) VTA Permission and conditions statement and its lack of implementation here in Milford Sound, and the effect it may have on locals and tourists. I’m not a lawyer, but I see this as a legal and moral failing in our duty to protect tourists (and locals).
The Ministry of Health (the Ministry) is responsible for ensuring that the provisions of the Hazardous Substances & New Organisms (HSNO) Act are complied with where it is necessary to protect public health. The Public Health Unit (PHU) is legislated by the Ministry of Health, to approve permission and attach conditions to interested parties applying a VTA (Vertebrate Toxic Agent) in a public place. This applies especially to drops into (or near) a public water supply. Public Health South (PHS) processes and approves permissions for the Fiordland area.
Permission is required because VTAs (of which 1080 is one) are toxic to humans through acute poisoning and chronic exposure. 1080 is considered a hazardous substance, for good reason. (See link to 1080 effects at p7.)
Some things stand out for me with the model PHU permissions:
1) Full disclosure to users is expected, with signs and warnings (which would logically be placed at the point of possible consumption)(see conditions 19 & 20 pg47 of VTA permission guide.)
2) An alternate water supply should be offered, if requested, until testing has been completed. (Case example – Condition 25 p67 note ii and conditions 25 – 32 of VTA permission guide.)
Bowen River valley and public water supply catchment area (see red circled area)
Figure 1: (Map clipped 4 July 2019 from the online DOC map.)
Milford Sound is one of NZ’s iconic tourist locations. We have between 500 to 5000 guests per day visiting the Fiord, hosted by various companies across the different seasons. The large majority of tourists are foreign nationals, many of whom don’t speak or read English very well.
However, I’ve had contact with the public water supply company in the last week, confirming that they’ve had no warning about the upcoming use of 1080. (As at 24th July)
Not a good start.
Despite the lack of communication from DoC (the lead agency for this particular drop) and from the aerial application contractor, many of the workers here in Milford know the drop is now imminent.
I understand that some of the companies here are planning to make bottled water available for their staff, but none of them (as far as I know) are planning to offer bottled water to the tourists, or even to put notices up in the terminal or on the vessels to warn them of the 1080 drop – so they can choose for themselves whether they would like to drink the tap water or not.
Knowing that 1080 is teratogenic (may cause birth defects) and with my partner being pregnant, I wouldn’t wish her to have any exposure whatsoever to 1080. I assume no foreign national in her position would wish to be exposed to that risk either. (See MOH Guidelines p7 re known 1080 effects.)
I am shocked that it appears that no one in Milford, including DoC, Milford Sound Tourism NZ (MST – the port operational company), Milford Sound Infrastructure ((MSI – the public water supply company), or the tourist companies providing vessels and the drinking water aboard them, is planning to at least inform the tourists that the water they may drink in the terminal and on board the vessels may potentially have a birth defect causing agent in it.
It is probably true that signs will likely be erected along the road into Milford, as we have seen done in various locations around NZ. But it is wrong to conclude that because those signs are at the rest areas, that foreigners will equate that with the drinking water in the terminal and on the boats being also potentially contaminated. One must remember, that many visitors can’t read English for a start, plus many come from areas where it is obvious that one doesn’t drink from any tap. Is it obvious here?
I would expect the duty of care and a minimum standard would mean that we’d firstly err on the side of caution. I would also assume that foreign governments would want us to set the minimum standard bar rather high when it comes to looking after the health and welfare of their citizens. As we would hope they do for our citizens when they’re abroad.
We know that the US and China for example, among others, take the safety of their citizens travelling overseas very seriously.
To add to the issues, Fiordland is a unique area in terms of its topography and rainfall. The Bowen River catchment valley is rather like a giant granite bath, with very little top soil, and average rainfall of 7000mm per annum. Together with winter temperatures, ice and snow melt, this will likely increase the risk of 1080 arriving at the intake at the same time and breaking down much more slowly. Further, according to TBFree HYPERLINK “https://ospri.co.nz/assets/Uploads/Documents/How-1080-Breaks-Down-in-Soil-Water.pdf” NZ:
“Biodegradation of 1080 is faster in warmer conditions (20degC), but still occurs at 5degC. At cooler temperatures rates of degradation are slower…..”
“Urgent samples for 24-hour turnaround testing may be sent unfrozen to the testing laboratory, but they must be chilled to 4°C and placed on ice as soon as possible after collection.”
Looking closer at Landcare’s testing regime (at 4.0): “Results will be available no later than 9.30 a.m. on the following day.” This means, at a minimum, no water should be drunk in Milford for 24hrs.
Do we need reminding that there is no antidote to 1080 poisoning?
It really seems easy to avoid the vast majority of the risks in this case. Just don’t drop 1080 in the water catchment area, meaning no 1080 to be aerially dropped in the Bowen River valley area of Milford Sound.
If DOC is so determined to go-ahead with the poison drop in the catchment area, then full disclosure to tourists should be made and an alternate drinking water supply offered (as per the model PHU statement example of 1080 in a public water supply).
It’s embarrassing that we call our country ‘Open and Inclusive’, ‘Clean Green’ etc and yet treat foreigners with this sort of disrespect.
Also of interest, according to the above Cleddau report; NO non-target species monitoring was undertaken. The water quality testing (pg 6 of DOC’s operational report 5.2.2) revealed the presence of 1080 at 1ppb.
I can tell you that as of writing, we have quite a few Kea (approx 20) hanging out in and around the village here in Milford.
Plenty of Wekas here as well, plus I’ve seen the odd NZ Falcon eating road kill on the drive into Milford.
I wonder how they will fare with the ‘Clean Green’ 1080 pellets raining down in the near future. Will anyone know if they’ve been affected?
To conclude: yes, opinions on the use of 1080 differ here, but no locals I’ve talked to think tourists shouldn’t at least be fully informed of what might be in their drinking water, to allow them their ‘Free Will’ to drink the local water or not.
Increase the peace
Skipper – Milford Sound
An update to this article can be found at this link.
RELATED: EWR links to articles on 1080 in water. Search for other articles on 1080 poison at the categories drop down box at the left of the news page.
If you are new to the 1080 poisoning program, here is a good article to start with …
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.
Apologies for the video in this article being removed. Facebook removed it from circulation so I have uploaded it via Youtube instead. Hopefully this will solve the problem.
A common observation now, particularly from the older generation who know how things used to sound in the bush. You can hear that in Te Urewera here at this link. Botanist Joseph Banks who came with Cook to NZ described the loudness of the bush in the late 1700s …
‘This morn I was awakd by the singing of the birds ashore from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile, the numbers of them were certainly very great who seemd to strain their throats with emulation perhaps; their voices were certainly the most melodious wild musick I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells but with the most tuneable silver sound imaginable to which maybe the distance was no small addition. On enquiring of our people I was told that they have had observd them ever since we have been here, and that they begin to sing at about 1 or 2 in the morn and continue till sunrise, after which they are silent all day like our nightingales.’
We are now told this has stopped because of the pest population, however, if you listened at the link above you’d know Te Urewera still has this very loud chorus & it has not been poisoned with 1080.
Taranaki on the other hand has been well bombarded with the poison … 27 years worth. It seems to not be working then?
Just the other day one of our readers commented below one of our 1080 articles:
“As a retired Hunter & photographer who has always lived in the bush, I can say that I have always known that DoC’s Scientific reports are false, People in the city know nothing about the Great outdoors & the Animals & people who live within the forest. I am 74 years old this year, I have never seen such a decline in birds as there is now.”
Here is another comment:
I myself love photographing Birds, I have been doing it all my life, I did extensive Travel in South Is. when I was young, I have just returned from a Photography trip in Fiordland, So Sad the 1080 Poison has killed so many of the Birds, I only got 3 Good photos of Birds, compared with 50 odd in the 1970s, What I did see a lot of, was 1080 Poison Signs.
Me and my sister used to take trips out to Kinloch to take our kids for ice creams and just enjoy the scenery. That was until we noticed warning signs for 1080 being dumped in the area and seeing multiple dead birds no way we were going to let our small children play there anymore!
Anyway, listen to the commentary here from Brett Power in the Taranaki:
Finally remember the recent revelation from a LandCare Scientist that one of DoC’s South Island aerial 1080 drops would have killed an estimated 10,000 birds. And we’re supposed to believe 1080 only kills targeted pests?
A Takaka tramper who thought she was doing a public service by picking up 1080 poison pellets on the Heaphy Track nine days after an aerial drop of the toxin, has been issued with a warning by police and the Department of Conservation for carrying out an illegal activity.
Showing councillors the wet blue-green poison baits in a plastic bag during the public forum of a Tasman District Council meeting in Takaka yesterday, Hera Livingston said she had been “disgusted” to find 60 of the poison baits within the first four hours of walking the track from Brown Hut, in Golden Bay.
Asking the council to call a halt to aerial 1080 poisoning operations in the district, Ms Livingston said: “This is a health and safety issue. I spoke to a couple of French tourists on the track and they had no idea what the stuff was.”
Ms Livingston said she picked up 22 pellets but then stopped when she continued to find more.
She said she had not seen a warning sign at the beginning of the walk, although there were signs further up the track.
Observers at the 1080 drop near Lake Wanaka recently observed many baits on the tracks, with many tourists present that day. Carol Sawyer who was there that day described the following:
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. SOURCE
Another observer said the bright coloured baits would have looked to a three year old, like a lolly scramble. How safe is this people?
Please educate yourself on the truth about 1080. There are links at our 1080 pages at the main menu (under Chemicals). You can find other 1080 articles and posts by using the categories drop down box.
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.