Friday, August 20, 2010

Poisoning Paradise nominated in Ireland

Poisoning Paradise - Ecocide New Zealand, only days after winning the Environmental & Ecology International Heart of England film festival award, has scooped another nomination at the International Film Festival Ireland.

Poisoning Paradise - Ecocide New Zealand is an in-depth, and critical film that exposes serious issues in New Zealand's aerial use of the deadly pesticide-insecticide 1080. New Zealand uses 90% of the world's annual production of the poison, which is manufactured in the United States. A bill to ban the manufacture, import and export of 1080 was introduced into US Congress in July.

However, we are starting to see increases in the level of spin-doctoring and glossy brochures put out by the Department of Conservation and the Animal Health Board, designed, it would seem, to counter the impact this film is having. Slowly but surely, though, the public are becoming more aware, and less tolerant of our poisoned animals taking from hours to days to die an inhumane, and protracted death. If international interest can help end this mass scale cruelty, then so be it!

Poisoning Paradise is one of six films nominated for the Environment & Ecology award in Ireland. The festival will run 6-12 September. For information on the festival visit Ends.

Click here for press release.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poisoning Paradise wins UK award

Poisoning Paradise, the Skeptic Society's Bent Spoon winner from 2009, has just won the best film award in the Environmental and Ecology International category at the Heart of England Film Festival in the UK. Poisoning Paradise was one of six international films nominated for the award.

This win is a strong endorsement for Poisoning Paradise. It seems it will take international intervention before the poisoning of our forests is properly addressed, and more responsible methods of pest management are employed.

We are still hoping national TV will play Poisoning Paradise, allow the public of New Zealand to become better informed, and make up their own mind about the reckless use of inhumane toxins.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved with making Poisoning Paradise, and to all the brave people that gave their testimonies, evidence and expertise. You're all marvelous!

We're now working on a 3rd and final chapter in a trilogy of 1080 documentaries, which focuses on safer, more community-friendly alternatives to the aerial distribution of 1080 poison. This film is not expected to be released for about 6 months.

A video trailer of Poisoning Paradise can be viewed at Ends.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Council urges AHB review

Council urges AHB review
By Laura Mills Hokitika Guardian Wednesday 11th August, and also Greymouth Star 11th August - Council demands AHB review

The Westland District Council has called on Parliament to not only cease all aerial 1080 drops, but review the entire Animal Health Board (AHB).
Mayor Maureen Pugh recently tabled a petition before Parliament's local government and environment select committee indicating that at least 90% of Westland residents were opposed to the toxin.
The committee then called for submissions, which have now been publicly released.
The Westland council's submission urged that "mass poisoning" be halted immediately until there could be a properly designed and executed study, independant of the Department of Conservation and Animal Health Board, showing the benefit of 1080.
The council also noted concern that, as a charitable trust, the AHB was not subject to the Official Information Act, and should be reviewed to see if it offered value to the taxpayer.
"The inability for the public to have access to the information held by the AHB breeds suspicion and mistrust within the community."
It said the AHB had avoided formally recording stock deaths.
"The tolerance for 1080 poisoning is at an all-time low and alternatives 'must' be trialed," the council submitted.
Against that, the Animal Health Board's submission said that in the past decade its strategy of using 1080 to kill possums had been effective in reducing Tb-infected herd numbers.
However, the West Coast still had disproportionately high infection numbers: "The region holds about 4% of all cattle and herds in New Zealand yet has over 30% of the nation's infected herds."
It said the Environment Risk Management Authority (Erma) had reviewed 1080 three years ago and found its use outweighed the adverse effects.
The board noted that the council had offered to work with the AHB and DOC to look into alternatives to the toxin, and while it was happy to do so, "we do not see any realistic prospects."
It had engaged independant survey professionals and in December 2009, 52% of those interviewed did not like 1080, but accepted the need for its use, the AHB submitted.
DOC was the third party to make a submission, and said the case for the continued use of aerial 1080 was "compelling."
It presented case studies, which showed 1080 was the cheapest option - in the Cascade this year the cost of ground control was $48.70 a hectare, compared with $17 a hectare for aerial control. The total saving by using aerial poison was close to $1 million.
Select committee chairman, the West Coast - Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole, yesterday could not say when the submissions would be considered: "It's on the timetable for consideration."

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The following post, about to appear in the Hauraki Herald, is from battlers based in the Coromandel, and in response to DoC's poisoning campaign at Kennedy Bay...


We are a group of local residents who passionately believe in controlling pests without poisoning the entire wildlife system at the same time.
On August 6 2010 a full-page advertorial appeared in this paper written by the new DOC manager for our area, Melissa King-Howell, "to inform the general public about the possum control planned for Kennedy Bay."
By August 6 this operation had only a week left to run and this is the first thing most people had heard of it.

Some trees in the bush block are "suffering from excessive possum browse" says M King-Howell. And yet the possum count is only 5.8%. Thus the excessive browse must be either an invention or caused by some other creature. Too many kaka perhaps. Either way, reducing that figure of 5.8% to 3.8 or 2.1 is not likely to make much difference. Fact is, that figure was already reduced as most of the possums had moved to an untreated neighbouring block of pines which was in flower at the time of poisoning.
Why choose bait-stations which carve tracks through the bush at 200m grids creating more damage than an army of possums in a life-time?
M King-Howell adds that the by-kill of rats with 1080 has produced increases of tui and bellbird after one breeding season in other Peninsula pest control operations.
This too turns out to be untrue as Iris Jacobs' peninsula research reveals.
Iris' report is a little shaky on the facts but two unquestionable points emerge:
1. Tui, and pigeon did not increase their numbers during the first breeding season after rat-poisoning and
2. Before the second breeding season the rat population was larger than it had been before the poisoning began.
This increase of rats after poisoning is reckoned to be between 2.5 and 6 times the original population according to all the research that has been carried out on rat abundance. (See Sweetapple, P., et al 2006)
M King-Howell has used only four sentences of anecdotal whimsy to sell the need for this Kennedy Bay project. The rest of her page is devoted to "selling" the poison 1080.

"Without protection, predators will kill nine out of ten kiwi chicks" says M King-Howell. The only known predator to kill 9 out of 10 kiwi is dogs. Does this mean that the Kennedy Bay 1080 is aimed directly at dogs?

M King-Howell quotes Suren 2006 as an authority on 1080 breakdown in water. Had she read his actual report she would have found that Suren 2006 had done no research whatsoever into the breakdown of 1080 poison. All the "independent water tests" she talks about were taken by the Health Board. The Health Board is part of every aerial 1080 team and in no sense can be labeled "Independent".
"Water testing done after 1080 operation is carried out to confirm that toxin is no longer present. This is to ensure that intakes of water used for drinking are not reopened during the short time when 1080 will be present after an operation. Testing is thus for clearance, rather than to detect the presence of 1080." (Hood 2007)
Mr Suren 2006, on the other hand, went looking for poison and every water sample he took within a four hours of a 1080 drop was found to contain 1080. Where it goes to no one knows.
M King-Howell has taken one line from Suren's executive summary, but she has ignored the damning evidence contained in the heart of his report.
"As all spin doctors know it is a standard trick to write an Executive Summary to emphasise the points you want journalists to pick up, and leave the detail buried in the report itself where hopefully it will remain undiscovered." (Wishart 2008)

"1080 is not carcinogenic" says M King-Howell, as if this is an advantage. How do we know if 1080 is carcinogentic or not? If you get 1080 poisoning cancer has no time to develop; you are dead in a few days.

1080 LIKE DDT:
The sales propaganda for 1080 has been identical to NZ's other toxins such as DDT, dioxins and Brodifacoum. All these toxins have enjoyed continued use in NZ long after their use in the wild has been banned elsewhere.

Even though research published in DOC's submission to ERMA revealed that 25% of all 1080 workers were carrying 1080 in their systems, M King-Howell states that "Their health is monitored and no issues with 1080 have been found". No worries for Melissa perhaps but if 25% of my workers were carrying detectable traces of 1080 it would be an issue for me.

$4-5 million per annum is spent on scientific research into 1080 and other toxins. Traps, encapsulated cyanide and the bio-dynamic methods of pest control have all been developed with private money. They are cheap, totally species-specific, do not cause secondary poisoning, do not get in the waterways, and leave no hidden residues.
Why have the government research teams for so long had nothing to do with the development of these very genuine alternatives?
The only "alternative" toxin to emerge from decades of research and tens of millions of dollars, is called PAPP, which Mr Eason tells us is perfect in every way. Only thing is PAPP is harmless to possums!

An army of DOC staff arrived in Kennedy Bay in the early hours of the morning to fill 1200 bait-stations with 1080 and get the job done in 24 hours. They were accompanied by another army of police dressed in anti-terrorist gear and carrying guns and expecting to fill their paddy wagons. They closed off the poison area with numerous road blocks. They stopped the few locals going to work and interrogated them as if they were terrorists. 32 policeman-days lost that the police were not chasing real crime.

There has been much unnecessary spending on this operation which has left the community seething and divided.
Kennedy Bay is the first example of how DOC's poisoning regime will be carried out under Melissa King-Howell: No consultation or any information prior to poisoning. Secret poisoning if possible. If word leaks out beforehand, as it did in Kennedy Bay, and there follows the slightest murmur of disapproval, Melissa will wheel in the SWAT squad and quiet that disapproval with anti-terrorist measures.

There are several websites available that contain balanced information about the use of 1080 in New Zealand.

The Stop 1080 facebook page

The Graf Boys

Monday, August 2, 2010

French TV crew to visit NZ

A French TV journalist is arriving this month to do a story on our possum, and the use of 1080 poison in New Zealand.

Dr. Quinn Whiting-Okeefe was asked by the researcher about papers used to support the use of 1080 poison. His comments, in blue, follow...

The essential facts and references are in Poisoning Paradise.

As scientists we would make five points:

First, the basic claim that one can put a universal poison into high quality food and drop in indiscriminately into ecosystems and only have a negative effect on two target species is a
priori extremely improbable. Such a claim should be viewed with utmost suspicion unless supported by the highest quality of scientific research. In fact there is no research at all addressing ecosystem level consequences of this bizarre program. Furthermore, individual studies are so poorly done and obviously biased as to be laughable.

Second, the NZ government's program of mass ecosystem poisoning is unprecedented so far as we can determine, i.e., no other country is doing or has ever done anything remotely similar to what the Department of Conservation in New Zealand is doing, unless one counts the US military’s mass poisoning with agent orange (dioxin) during its part of the Vietnam War, the consequences of which for the people of Vietnam were disastrous including birth defects and increased rates of various malignancies.

DoC’s own data show convincingly that many native species of birds and invertebrates are being killed by its aerial 1080 program. In several species the measured per drop kill rate is over 20% and in one over 30%.

Fourth, there is not a single scientifically credible study showing a benefit of aerial 1080 to any native species—not one. In fact,
DoC’s “research” attempting to show this is almost entirely junk.

Fifth, universally accepted standards of research design are almost never followed by
DoC funded studies. In fact it is recently claimed in an author-less paper published by DoC that such standards are “not applicable to ecology research” in New Zealand. What this implies is that the claims of the authors of these papers represent little more than the prejudices of their bosses at DoC whose budget is increased by at least $100M/year by the aerial 1080 program that indiscriminately spreads enough 1080 around the country to kill the entire human population of New Zealand 4 times over.

The whole thing is difficult to believe.

Unfortunately, there appear to be very few scientists in New Zealand that really care about what's taking place in our environment, or perhaps it's that they really don't know.
Or are they just afraid to speak out?
One thing I can say is, that what scientists like Dr. Whiting-Okeefe are saying is more consistent with what we've observed after years of investigating poison drop zones.

The view that 1080 is helping our forests, and that bird-life is abundant after aerial poison drops, is complete non-sense. We have traveled the country, visiting many drop sites, and we are yet to see any evidence of benefit from the use of 1080 poison. There is none!