Monday, November 15, 2010

United Future to push for 1080 poison ban

Steve and I were invited to speak at the UnitedFuture conference on Saturday.
We presented a PowerPoint slideshow and talked about alternatives to 1080, and the new documentary we are currently working on.
 The new doco will demonstrate that there are many highly skilled and experienced people and organisations in New Zealand that can provide effective, and direct alternatives to the current practice of aerially poisoning our forests.
Below is the press release from UnitedFuture.

Media Statement
Saturday, 13 November 2010

Hon Peter Dunne
MP for Ohariu
Leader of UnitedFuture

Dunne: UF will push for total ban on 1080 poison

UnitedFuture will push for an immediate ban on 1080 poison when it enters government-forming negotiations after the next election, leader Peter Dunne told the party’s policy conference today.

“In the next Parliament we will seek an immediate ban on the continued use of 1080 in any shape or form.

“We want the millions of dollars currently going on this indiscriminate killer of our wildlife to be diverted to other forms of pest control, and scientific research on better options,” Mr Dunne said.

“One of the biggest threats across New Zealand is animals being killed and the poisoning of waterways by indiscriminate use of 1080 poison.

New Zealand should listen to the voice of the many communities who actually have to deal with this, and who are increasingly opposed to the impact of 1080.

“We need to have the focus on finding better ways to control pests and move away from this destructive poison,” he said.

Speaking at the conference, which was also addressed by Bryce Johnson, chief executive of Fish and Game, and anti-1080 campaigners and documentary-makers, Clyde and Steven Graf, Mr Dunne said New Zealanders could not take access and enjoyment of the outdoors for granted.

“There are serious and ongoing threats to that access – as we have seen recently with Timberland’s unfortunate stance banning access to Kaingaroa Forest and some top fishing rivers.

“UnitedFuture is fighting that and other threats to our outdoors heritage. We will not let the Kiwi birthright be taken away,” Mr Dunne said.


Mark Stewart | Press Secretary | Office of Hon Peter Dunne
DDI +64 4 817 6985 | Mb +64 21 243 6985 |

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Mad Hatter's Ten-Eighty-Tea Party?

The following story appeared on the front page of this week's

The Informer...

               The Mad Hatter's Ten-Eighty-Tea Party?

Government 1080 importer threatens to sue government for compensation if 1080 stocks are made worthless.

Is this another twist to the Mad Hatters Ten-Eight-Tea Party?
More and more it appears that it is not conservation science, but rather it is an economic engine that is  driving the continued use of 1080 as the “most effective tool we have” to reduce possum numbers.

Methinks I smell a rat,or should I say a possum, and it's not in the forest dying an agonising 1080 death -  no, it appears to be a large corporate creature nestled into a cosy cranny at the highest level of government.

Animal Control Products Ltd (ACP) is a state-owned enterprise whose two shareholders are the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Agriculture. It is a business that, like a drug addict, is hooked into the  importation, manufacturing and distribution of 1080 products and the profits that are generated. In its Statement of Corporate Intent ( 2010- 2012) there are a few eye-brow raising statements, no matter whether your eyebrows are the bushy farmer's type, or shaped urban. 

Here are three surprising facts for your consideration:

1.      APC Ltd sees any developments of alternatives to 1080 ( that ERMA recommended) as a “risk” to its core business.(Importing and manufacturing products from 1080 accounts for 65% of its profits. )

2.      It has stockpiled 4 years worth of 1080 “beyond commercial requirements”. (This has been  estimated to amount to more than 10,000kg of pure 1080.)

3.      It has stated that  should the government take any action to restrict 1080 use, thereby making these stocks “valueless”, it will assert its right to seek compensation “..sufficient to allow the Company's position to be restored. ( Source:  )

Here are some questions to ponder.

How bizarre is this, where an SOE company whose two shareholders are the Ministers of Finance and Agriculture, will threaten to sue themselves, the government?

How can it be in the “national interest” and for the “public good”, to stockpile 4 years worth of the  supertoxin 1080 “beyond commercial requirements” as stated by ACP?

Is ACP an unaccountable corporate entity? The answer to this must be 'yes' as it states that its Business and Strategic Plan is confidential and not available to the public.

ACP Ltd also states that to deal with the perceived “risk” of 1080 use being restricted, it will need to develop new poisons as well as expand exports. Currently, ACP through Pestoff Products based in Wanganui, exports container loads of poisons to many overseas nations including Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Russian states like unstable Kyrgyzstan.( Source:  under products).

Have we “gone down the rabbit hole” like Alice in Wonderland where things appear curiouser and curiouser? For example, in the 2007 “anti-terrorist” police raids, the organisers of an environmentally constructive Ecoshow in Taupo had their homes searched and computers removed. Compare this to the fact that a state-owned enterprise can import  huge amounts of a deadly Class 1A supertoxin which could threaten national security if ever it got into the wrong hands.

In its booklet on “Possum Control and the Use of 1080 in New Zealand”, the Department of Conservation stated that 1080 for possum control was the best available poison “ in the short to medium term”. They stated that within 10  to 15 years there would be more “integrated” approaches or biological control. But this was written sixteen years ago. Over this time, 1080 use has become entrenched in the economy, driven more by money than ecology.

It would be funny, if it wasn't so concerning that many well-intentioned and hard-working people of the conservation sector have swallowed the green-tinged bait of this profit-driven poison-industrial complex. In time, 1080 will join a long list of banned chemicals that were once promoted as “safe and cost-effective”.

To see story - click here - The Informer

Stephanie McKee
Waikawau Bay.
October 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kiwi vs Poisons - More testing needed.

There is still no reliable evidence to show that kiwi are benefiting, at a population level, from the use of aerially applied 1080 poison on the mainland.
Kiwi may, however, benefit from pest control using targeted trapping, and targeted ground control operations.

The following excerpts are from a 3 year study that observed the effects of brodifacoum poison, through the use of BAIT STATIONS (not aerially applied poison), on kiwi...


"Kiwi chicks may be more vulnerable than adults to accidental poisoning if they have different physiology or behaviour; for instance, kiwi chicks are more liable to feed on novel food items (Tamsin Ward-Smith, Massey University, NZ, pers. comm.). With a short bill, chicks are restricted to feeding on surface-dwelling invertebrates and so may be more likely to come into contact with invertebrates feeding on baits that had fallen to the ground or been cached by rodents (rats or mice), and invertebrates feeding on possum and rodent carcasses on the ground. We had no evidence from our study to show that either rats or possums were killing kiwi chicks."

"We have shown that kiwi chicks are ingesting the toxin, even though the doses recorded are generally
below the levels affecting the physiology, behaviour or survival of the chicks concerned; however, one
chick had a higher level (0.18 mg kg-1) than the 0.12 mg kg-1 that was apparently fatal in a harrier
(Rammell et al. 1984)."

We now know (2010) that brodifacoum is terminating in kiwi chicks, eggs, and adult birds.
1080 bait looks the same, smells the same, and tastes the same as brodifacoum baits.
1080 is spread aerailly across New Zealand, whereas brodifacoum is only permitted in some areas on the mainland, in bait stations.
Therefore, aerially applied 1080 is far more accessible to kiwi, than brodifacoum presented in bait stations.

How is it that brodifacoum residues are found in kiwi, but 1080 is not (as we're told by the DoC), when the baits are practically the same, apart from the way they kill?

"If it is known that a species has eaten cereal-based baits containing brodifacoum, that information is included in this report to indicate that the species may eat cereal-based 1080 baits." 
( E.B. Spurr and R.G. Powlesland 1997)

Brown kiwi (Apteryx australis) Brown kiwi are known to have eaten cereal-based baits (Pierce & Montgomery 1992),"

Brodifacoum accumulates in the body, whereas, we're informed, that non fatal doses of 1080 is metabolised.
However, it would be reasonable to assume that the 1080 is still entering the birds foodchain, (because it is allot more available to kiwi in aerial drops, than bait station operations using brodifacoum) and they are consuming the poison, but perhaps it is less possible to detect the poison, simply because it ends up being metabolised. Or perhaps we're not testing the birds to determine if they contain 1080 residues?

The question is - what harm is being done to the birds that receive this sub-lethal dose?
We do know that 1080 is a male reproductive toxin.
Is it probable that the repeated use of 1080 in our forests (every 3 years, in many areas) is having a detrimental effect on these birds long term breeding ability? Yes.

Is it possible that the damage done by 1080 intoxication, that is then metabolised, still kills the bird, even weeks down the track, but the residues are no longer detectable? Or perhaps the birds that die in aerial drops aren't being tested for residues, their deaths simply being attributed to predation?

For example, 14 kiwi recently died at Mt Bruce, in the Wairarapa.
1 bird in March, and 13 birds between the 05 July and August 12.
2 types of poison have been used in over 1100 bait stations across the reserve. A first generation anticoagulant was used earlier in the year.
The death of the birds where put down to predation by 2 stoats. These 2 stoats covered 950  hectares in less than 4 weeks, and killed 2 juvenile, and 11 adult kiwi. (one of the birds to die earlier, was too decomposed to determine cause of death)
DoC tell us that kiwi can defend themselves from a predator after reaching about 1.5kg in size. (about 18 months of age) The majority of birds killed at Mt Bruce were adult birds.

Only 5 kiwi in the last 15 years have been tested for 1080 residues. Including those from Mt Bruce.
One in 1998, one in 2001, one in 2008, and 2 in 2010. (As of at 24th August 2010 (obtained under the Official Information Act - OIA request) It is not known if these 5 tested kiwi were from poison drop zones.

It seems unreasonable to assume that 1080 is not terminating in kiwi (as the public are told by DoC), when so few of the birds that die are being tested. Surely, in a country that drops so much poison, one could expect that ALL kiwi found dead, whether thought to be scavenged, or predated on, should be tested for residues simply to understand where this poison is ending up.
We often find birds scavenged in poison drop zones. This does not mean they were predated on - simply that they have been scavenged on AFTER dying from 1080 poisoning.
At the moment, it seems, that there is a resistance to wanting to test birds for poison residues, to ensure poison residues are not realised.