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.


1 comment:

  1. its is not uncommon to get silent days in the bush.I have worked in Arthurs pass for the last 3 summers and some days there seem to be birds everywhere-and some days there seem to not be any birds anywhere.