Monday, June 28, 2010

Taupo mayor declares war - and a visit to the drop zone

Taupo mayor Rick Cooper has declared war on the 1080 industry.
Click here THE MAYOR WHO DECLARED WAR to read the Sunday Star Times full, 2 page story in yesterday's paper.

10 days ago, 60,000 hectares of forestry, bordering lake Taupo, were aerially applied with compound 1080 poison.

Steve, myself and Taupo mayor Rick Cooper, yesterday visited one of the forests.
The question the Mayor was asking was - Why was the use of aircraft required to indiscriminately spread the deadly toxin across the forests? - Their water runoff flows into Lake Taupo! The terrain is flat, to rolling, and is comprehensively dissected with
roads and tracks. Mr Cooper believes the forestry should have been managed by using professional ground based trappers, hunters, and the use of bait stations.
It was only about 3 years ago that the forestry was aerially poisoned.

During the 6 hours we spent in the block, we found only 1 dead possum.
It is common for us to find more non-target species than target (possums and rats), in areas poisoned with 1080.
Time was spent both driving the roads, and searching in the pine blocks.
Two months ago, when visiting the block, several deer were seen, and the sign of deer throughout the area, was common.
However, after comprehensively searching and driving the block yesterday, not a single fresh sign of deer was seen, not even foot prints.
This suggests the Sika deer living in the area have been poisoned.

5 dead rabbits were found. They had been scavenged, probably by hawks or falcon, given that the drop is meant to have killed any rats. No dead rats were found.
Although the drop took place 10 days earlier, the baits were in good order, and were still laying, clearly visible and intact, in the forest, and on the roads and tracks.

Apart from the 1 dead possum, we also found 5 rabbits - a favourite food source for hawks and falcons - which had been scavenged. 1080 causes secondary poisoning in feeders up the food chain. To allow our native bird life to be lethally, and sub-lethally poisoned, without a second thought for their welfare, is not only
grossly ignorant, but also a breach of the Animal Welfare, and Wildlife acts!
However, ignorance is a key defence for the users and supporters of 1080.
Aside from the target species, we also found 7 dead birds.
6 were finches. These are the most common birds in the forestry block.
Although finches are introduced passerines, they have similar feeding habits to some of our native and endemic passerines, and these deaths only reinforce scientific studies that have shown large numbers of native birds are poisoned in aerial operations.
1 endemic Kereru (Wood Pigeon) was also found, and It had been partly scavenged. It is common for birds, but not possums (apart from areas where kea, weka or pukeko are present), to be scavenged after they have been killed by 1080. Sometimes only a pile of feathers is all that authenticates their pre-poison existence.
In the past, Kiwi have been found dead after poisoning operations, but their deaths are often dismissed by DoC as caused by predation (rather than the possibility that they have been predated on while dying, or scavenged when killed by poisoning), so are, conveniently, not tested.
The users of 1080 - DoC, AHB, and regional councils - continue to deliberately mislead the public over their use of this poison. These bureaucracies habitually inform the public that aerial drops only take place in difficult terrain, and across inaccessible areas.
We have travelled the country, visiting many drop zones, and in most cases, the drop areas can be managed with responsible, targeted, ground control - with ease.
We congratulate Taupo mayor Rick Cooper for his stance on the irresponsible use of aerially applied 1080 poison in the Taupo district, and raising the issue of what drives this industry.
By advocating the abolition of this anti-Kiwi method of animal control - he is a true patriot!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Australian Forest Certification Helps End 1080 Use

Australian Forest Certification Helps End 1080 Use

Australian Forestry Standard Limited (AFSL) has congratulated leading Australian forestry company Gunns Limited on its decision to end the use of 1080 poison as part of its Tasmanian Forestry operations.

AFSL Chief Executive Officer Kayt Watts said, "Australian Forestry Standard Limited welcomes Gunn's decision to end the use of 1080 poison. This important step by Gunns is consistent with AFSL's Standard AS 4708 for forest management and will enhance Gunns' sustainable forest management."

In banning 1080, Gunns has taken a further step mandated by Australian Forestry Standard's key forest management standard which outlines the economic, social, environmental and cultural criteria for sustainable timber production.

In announcing that it will end the use of 1080 immediately, Gunns Chief Executive Officer Greg L'Estrange said: "The decrease of our reliance upon chemical usage is an integral part of the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) certification and demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement."

He also said, "We actively encourage community engagement and will continue to consider the views of all stakeholders in determining our forest management policies. We hope that this decision is welcomed by the community."

Gunns decision to end its use of 1080 is evidence of the community and corporate benefits which flow when companies adopt policies which that seek to maximize their performance against Australian Forestry Standard criteria, Ms Watts said.

The Australian forestry standards ensure that companies with AFS certification meet the consumer demand and are recognised as socially responsible corporate citizens who support sustainable forest management.

The poison was previously used to prevent native and feral animals from destroying forest seedlings. To enable it to end the use of 1080, Gunns has developed stronger, hardier seedlings, developed new netting around the seedlings and new strategies for the types and timing of fertiliser they use to ensure a rapid growth of the seedlings, so they are more resistant to browsing animals.

Ms Watts said that AFSL expects that Gunns decision will encourage greater recognition in export timber markets and among domestic users of timber products that that AFS-certified forest product companies are making a positive contribution to the future of Australian native forests through their sustainable harvesting processes, for which the Australian Forest Certification Scheme provides independent certification.

The Australian Forest Certification Scheme provides the only Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) and the only Chain of Custody (CoC) certification process that are Australian Standards.

AFS is a member of PEFC, the world's largest forest certification system.

Further Information
Kayt Watts This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , CEO Australian Forestry Standard Limited

To see original story, please press link

Poisoning Paradise gets second UK nomination

Poisoning Paradise has just received its second international film festival nomination.
It is 1 of 5 films nominated in the Environment and Ecology section of the Heart of England Film Festival, held in the UK. The festival runs in August.
Click here to read scoop story

Monday, June 21, 2010

Filming in Westland -

Filming in Westland -Tuesday - 15th June - Operation site

Steve, father and I arrived at the Animal Health Board's 1080 operation site at about 7.ooam. By the time we arrived, protesters had crossed the fence, and ventured into the loading area. About 7 police cars arrived, plus a paddy wagon which was used to transport the 5 arrested, to Greymouth.

Katie Earnshaw was interviewed by TV3 and TVONE after she left the protest site.
She photographed the event as it unfolded, and managed to walk away without being arrested. She told us that the protesters were told they could leave the site without being arrested if they left immediately. As they were heading toward the gate, police changed their minds, then arrested 5 of the protesters as they left. Another was charged the following day. The police handled the situation very well, and appeared to be sympathetic toward the protesters stance.

When things had settled down, we headed into the drop zone.

At least 5 helicopters were used in this operation, and they managed to poison about 40,000 hectares of Westland forest, in this single day. Two different locations were used for loading the baits into the choppers hoppers.

We drove up the Totara Valley road and filmed and photographed the choppers working. Baits were filmed landed on the road, and in the stream beds.

Apart from the poison baits lying around the valley, the poison signs themselves contaminate the
beautiful scenery and must leave visitors wondering what the heck is with the skull and cross bones littered at every track entrance, hut or site of significance.

Wednesday 16th of June - Kiwi Flat

Peter Salter, helicopter pilot and owner of The Bushman Centre, used his R22 helicopter to fly us into the drop zone. We headed into Kiwi Flat, for about 3 hours of looking around.

What struck us the most was the absence of bird life.

The weather was perfect, and there was little wind. Admittedly, it was the cold side of the ridge, but in those 3 hours, I didn't see a bird in the bush! I heard several Silver Eyes, and 1 Tomtit. But not a single Robin, Fantail, Weka, Wood Pigeon, Tui, Bellbird, Kakariki, Rifleman or Grey Warbler was seen! Not even a Blackbird. Now normally we would expect to see some of these species following us around, but it was astonishing, when comparing to areas we have visited where 1080 has never been used, just how much damage is being done with these drops.

When we returned to the river flats, and while waiting for the chopper to return, we did see 2 ducks, 2 Tomtits and a Silver Eye.

This area has been aerially dropped at least twice before.

Thursday 17th June - Flat Creek

Peter flew us in to Flat Creek on Thursday, for a 5 hour search around.

R22 choppers can only carry 1 passenger at a time, so 3 trips were needed to get us into the area.

As Steve and Peter were flying in they spotted a dead deer in the stream bed. They couldn't land on the site, so flew further upstream, to a suitable landing spot. Our plan was to work our way back down stream, through the bush, and checking the stream as we went.

When we landed, baits were immediately spotted all across the stream bed, and in the water.
This is typical of all drop zones we have visited.
Helicopters can't avoid smaller waterways, so simply drop the poison across them at the same rate as land areas.

GPS helps ensure the choppers cover their flight paths thoroughly.
GPS does not prevent
baits from being dropped into streams.
All streams under 3 metres wide are allowed to have 1080 dropped directly into them, as stated on resource consents.
These streams, of course, make up the bigger rivers.

In the 5 hours we searched in the Flat Creek area, once again, I did not see a single bird in the bush, not even a Blackbird! However, one Blackbird was found dead, and 1 Kea was heard. Several finches were also heard.

As we progressed, Steve found 2 dead deer. A hind, and her yearling.

The yearling had a large amount of pink froth piled around her nose and mouth, which indicated internal lung damage.

The hind had her head buried in a hole under a tree, and when we pulled her out, we could see the froth from her nose, and bleeding from her mouth was clearly visable.

The animals appeared to have suffered a cruel death. Their eyes were hazy, and fogged over, which is not typical with an animal that has died quickly. An animal that has been shot, for example, has clear eyes.

We kept moving down stream, and eventually came upon the deer that was spotted from the chopper.

It was a young stag, and it had its neck bent violently, and head buried behind its back, suggesting, once again, an inhumane death.

Going by the deer sign, it appeared to have been moving up the creek
eating the baits on the river bed, as it went.

It is quite common to find animals, dead after 1080 drops, in stream beds and waterways.
The only possum we found in the 2 days of searching, was also dead in the stream.

These animals are left to decompose where they die. They are poisonous, because the 1080 that killed them is retained in their carcass - but they also contaminate the water ways with bacteria as they decompose.
This is just one of the reasons 1080 should never be used aerially - and there are many more.

It is worth pointing out that it is illegal to kill deer with 1080, in New Zealand.
So how do authorities get away with it? Easy, they simply deny they are targeting them!
It is estimated by scientists that 20,000 deer are killed in 1080 drops, every year!

It's not difficult to understand why the people living in the drop zone areas, that use and enjoy the forests, are so against these drops. It is the users of the forests that are most aware of the damage that is being done by the use of 1080 poison in New Zealand. We can expect to see more civil disobedience, as long as these peoples civil rights continue to be breached by authoritative dictatorships.

In the 2 days of searching, we found 1 dead rat, 1 dead Blackbird, 3 dead deer, and only 1 dead possum - and the possum was a small animal, lying in the stream.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Heading to Westland

We are heading to Westland this Sunday the 13th, to film the pending 80,000 hectare drop of Compound 1080 into the Westland National Park. We have been requested by residents of the area to film and produce a mini doco on the event. We will be covering the drop, and filming any evidence of harm. We will also be interviewing the local individuals, and presenting what they deem as the best way forward for the district, in regard to future wildlife management.
We are keen to hear from anyone with information on Kiwi, Kea or live stock deaths by 1080, or any other information that is deemed relevant. Thanks.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Poison use a sinister tale" - The Press 2002

The following article appeared in the Christchurch Press in January 2002.
What's intriguing is how the British team quickly identified indicators of an industry built on poison, and how their story echoes the voice of 1000's of New Zealanders across the country - even after the ERMA reassessment of 1080 poison in 2007...

Poison use 'a sinister tale'
Article from:
The Press
Article date:
January 29, 2002

NELSON -- A British filmmaker's criticism of 1080 poison use in New Zealand has alarmed government departments.

Terry Brownbill, making a documentary to be screened in Europe, says the real story behind our use of 1080 is "a sinister tale of corruption and bureaucratic indifference".

The Department of Conservation (DOC) says his allegations of public lies and alleged corruption are unfounded.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, worried about the documentary's impact on meat- export markets, says concerns expressed by Brownbill about the possibility of 1080 residue entering food are invalid.

Last May Brownbill led a two- man film crew on a three-week tour of New Zealand, talking to opponents and supporters of aerial 1080 use. The resulting documentary is still being edited.

Brownbill says DOC and the Animal Health Board (AHB) were "empires built on poison" and British viewers of his documentary would be horrified by the poisoning of New Zealand "in the name of the Queen".

Brownbill's documentary was commissioned by Britain's Sky TV.

Brownbill said the programme made it very clear New Zealand's pure image was a sham.

"When the world gets to know the full horror of how New Zealand is carpet bombing millions of acres of farmland and native forest, there will be a backlash which could seriously affect agricultural exports and tourism," he said.

"Both DOC and the AHB are empires built on poison.

"New Zealand seems far more concerned about losing its clean- green image than it does about protecting its people."

Animal Health Board communications manager Nick Hancox said the board was more interested in achieving its aim of reducing TB in New Zealand than "empire building". --NZPA

Supplied by New Zealand Press Association

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The 1080 industry

"Conspiracy theory!", the pro-1080 camp cry when challenged about the 1080 industry in New Zealand.
Any suggestion that the use of 1080 in New Zealand is simply business, is immediately dismissed as a conspiracy theory, by the pro-1080 lobby.
The following excerpt sheds some light on the intentions of some of those involved in the industry, and one example of how they endeavor to ensure their interests remain viable.

Whether a conspiracy theory or not, there is certainly a big industry built around the use of 1080 in New Zealand...

Tom Look - posted the following comment on Facebook today...

Conspiracy theories are only theories until proof is found. They are then conspiracy. Here we have 3 government agencies conspiring to ensure that a fourth government agency, ERMA, decides in favour of their profits.
From ACP (Animal Control Products - owned by our government).
Statement of corporate intent 2006-2008

7. RISK MANAGEMENT The Company defines risk as any event which represents a potential threat or obstacle to the achievement of its objectives. The Company has implemented risk management strategies in all areas of its business and recognises the need to proactively manage risk.
One area of risk is the re-registration of 1080 by the Environmental Risk Management Authority. The outcome of the review is uncertain at this time but any restriction could have a material impact on ACP operations. In the 2005/2006 year the re-registration process will have a high public profile and will be closely scrutinised.
To facilitate the re-registration a steering group has been established including representatives from Animal Health Board, Department of Conservation and Animal Control Products limited. The Company will continue to participate in this steering group to ensure the reassessment process is robust, well managed and delivers the best possible outcome.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reviewing Department of Conservation's 1080 practice - An independent scientific review

Two american scientists spent 6 months reviewing DoC's (Department of Conservation) 1080 practice in New Zealand.
This is their summary, as it appears on ....

About a year ago we learned that DoC was routinely and indiscriminately dropping food laced with tonnes of a universal poison, 1080 into our forest ecosystems. Ostensibly, this aerial poisoning of our forests is being done to control possums.

DoC asserts that only possums and other so called “pests” are significantly poisoned. As scientists and life-long environmentalists, we were struck that this contention appears to violate the most fundamental ecological principles as well as common sense. Is it plausible that one could drop food mixed with a poison that kills all animals into a semi-tropical ecosystem and only negatively affect possums and other “pests”?

This question is particularly relevant now in light of the upcoming aerial 1080 drop into the Coromandel watershed. In science, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. We resolved to determine whether the extraordinary claims of DoC have the weight of extraordinary evidence behind them. The answer is unequivocal: they do not.

After months of investigation, we found that 1080 research, almost entirely sponsored and controlled, by DoC sustained six conclusions, which given the large cost and risks of DoC’s aerial 1080 program we find truly astonishing.

First, there is not a single scientifically credible study showing that aerial 1080 when used on the mainland is of net benefit to any species of New Zealand’s native fauna, let alone has the general salvational effects claimed by DoC.

Second, there is overwhelming evidence from DoC’s own research that aerial 1080 is killing large numbers of native animals, including birds, insects and other invertebrates, and our only native mammal, the bat. Moreover most native species are entirely unstudied.

Third, there is not a single ecosystem level study showing lack of harm, let alone showing the overwhelming beneficial effects that DoC claims. In fact 1080 drops often increase stoat and rat populations.

Fourth, while it is probable that possums, if left unchecked, would over time do some damage to our forests, the degree of that damage is not known and whether that damage is being controlled with aerial 1080 without irreversible damage to the forest ecosystem is entirely unproven.

Fifth, DoC’s 1080 research is generally of poor scientific quality, is obviously biased as one would expect given the fact that the researchers owe their jobs to the goodwill of the DoC bureaucracy, and it does not actually show what DoC claims.

Sixth, in any case, it is clear from AHB research that there is a clear alternative: ground based baiting with species specific bait stations. In short there is absolutely nothing in the scientific record that would justify the following statement from DoC’s May 14 press release: “Without 1080, the price New Zealanders would have to pay in the loss of their unique species and habitats is too awful to contemplate.”

To the contrary, DoC’s own science tells a depressingly grim story. DoC habitually, publicly and aggressively misrepresents what its research shows. For example, DoC claims in its ERMA submission “that robin nesting success more than compensates for any robin losses from 1080”. This is absolutely false.

The cited study showed increased nesting success in 1 of 3 years, but even that single success failed to translate into increased robin population success -- the bottom line. The study also showed that 54% of banded robins died in the 1080 poisoned area compared to none in the un-poisoned area.

DoC has claimed that Kereru populations are increased by aerial 1080 treatment, and yet the only study published on the subject was methodological nonsense, which proved nothing, but incidentally “showed” that Grey Warblers and Silvereye populations decreased in the 1080 treated area, an observation never mentioned by DoC’s otherwise highly efficient public opinion control machine.

DoC claims that the tomtit is not affected by aerial 1080 bait, and cites a study done by Westbrooke in 2005 to prove that. However, the published paper actually shows that substantial numbers of tomtits could be being killed even by low concentration cereal baits, and more important it shows that about 40% of tomtits died when exposed to low concentration carrot baits!!! Yet this is never mentioned by DoC. Carrot bait is still in widespread use by DoC.

DoC claims that bats are unaffected by aerial 1080. However, a competent 2002 study by Lloyd and McQueen showed that bats were clearly poisoned. The study gave a “best estimate” that 14% of bats would be killed in 14 foraging flights in a 1080-poisoned area...

There is even substantial evidence that DoC has suppressed critical research unfavourable to its aerial-1080 agenda. This research on invertebrates (insects, worms, spiders, etc.) is perhaps the most disturbing. In 1992, M Meads completed a study for DoC that showed approximately 50% mortality among forest invertebrates from a single aerial 1080 “treatment”.

DoC refused to allow the resulting paper to be published. At the same time they commissioned a similar study which structurally had no chance of detecting the high mortality seen in the Meads study. The resulting poorly designed and analyzed study remains the sole DoC-published evidence that its indiscriminate use of a poison which originally developed as an insecticide is not devastating our forest invertebrates.

The implications of this are truly disturbing given that invertebrates are the backbone of forest ecosystems. In fact, DoC’s use of aerial 1080 over the intervening 15 years has probably already done irreversible damage to the diversity of our native invertebrates which DoC is mandated to protect. New Zealand is unique in the world in its use of aerial 1080.

No other country is doing anything remotely similar to this. New Zealand uses over 85% of the world’s supply of 1080, a poison that is toxic to all animals, that is banned or severely restricted in most countries, and that is classified “extremely hazardous” by the World Health Organization. In response to this, DoC asserts that New Zealand is in a unique ecological position, but this is simply not true.

For example, the State of Hawaii has an almost identical problem with feral mammals threatening native birds, and we learned from Miles Nakahara, Forest & Wildlife branch manager that Hawaii would not even consider such a practice. “You are pretty cavalier using a poison like that … you will destroy the forest … you will lose the very thing you are trying to save.”

In addition to the lethal damage that 1080 is doing to our fauna is the potential chronic risk to animals and humans of exposure to 1080 given the proximity of recent and planned drops near habitated areas such as ours.

The acute lethal poisoning level for adult humans is some where between 30 and 200 mg. It would take eating the poison bait directly, eating a poisoned animal or an accident in a water catchment to achieve that level of toxicity.

But what is not known is the effect of sublethal and chronic poisoning. Since humans cannot be experimented upon, there are two potential avenues of approach regarding the risk to humans. First are animal experiments.

The more similar the animal is to humans, the more compelling. In this case, it may not need to be that close since the mechanism of poisoning by 1080 is common to virtually all air breathing organisms. There are very few studies in which chronic and sublethal effects have been examined and they tend to be limited in scope and short term.

What research has been done indicates that 1080 in sublethal doses can cause infertility, hormonal dysfunction, and mutations in several vertebrate species (SA Weaver, 2006).

The second approach is to examine theoretical arguments based on the modes of the poison’s action, the organs most affected and biological mechanisms of cellular disruption. Dr. Peter Scanlon’s submission to ERMA is the best review covering these issues of which we are aware.

In short, this state of affairs regarding potential chronic human toxicity is utterly deplorable. DoC has not seen fit to investigate the extent to which these may be affecting native species via chronic exposure even though its stated intention is to “treat” our forests with 1080 poisoning every two or three years into the indefinite future.

At present, we can only speculate on the long term and chronic effects of these sublethal doses of 1080 on our native species AND ourselves. Lacking evidence, to simply assume that there is no collateral damage and significant chronic effects is irresponsible in the extreme. DoC’s lack of concern and hubris matches that of the DDT story and the U.S. dropping of dioxin (agent orange) on Vietnam.

The question always arises: why are DoC and EW pushing this apparently insane practice. Many DoC employees seem to sincerely believe the company line that 1080 is a magic elixir for our forests. It is a kind of religion based in a perception that all feral species should be eliminated—absurd as that is when one says it out loud.

However, the more fundamental motivation appears to be money, budget maximization, the bureaucrat’s raison d’etre, some $80 million per year. It is easy enough to espouse this crusade against possums (and highly selected other feral species) when one gets everything from it: increased salary, perquisites, reputation, power, patronage, convenience, and ease of management. They can spend the money with whomever and in whatever way they wish.

As such, aerial 1080 “pest” control is a bureaucratic motivator with irresistible force. In summary, the scientific evidence indicates that we may be doing substantial, possibly irreversible, damage to our forest ecosystem by this inherently anti-environmental practice.

We think it is time to stop, and it is time that DoC stop propagandizing us with infantile unsupported sound bites that pander to emotion. It is time to produce the extraordinary evidence to support this extraordinary practice.

It is time that every New Zealander demand the truth from DoC and it is time to demand that the use of aerial 1080 be discontinued until the real effect of 1080 on us, our forest ecosystems and our environment is demonstrated to be beneficial by competent and independent scientific research.

Our forests, their inhabitants, our international reputation as an environmentally sane nation and perhaps our own long-term health are at stake. Patricia Whiting -OKeefe, PhD (Chemistry), Quinn Whiting-OKeefe, BA (Chemistry, Math), MA (Math), MD, FACMI (The completely referenced scientific report supporting the material in this article is available as a free download from Ends.