It has been revealed through an OIA request that tagged kiwi have been dying in large numbers in one of our most heavily 1080 treated forests.
Aerial 1080 drops first began in the Tongariro Forest in 1976 and have been followed with subsequent drops in parts of the forest in 1988, 1989, 1991, and over much of the forest in 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2006. Another drop was carried out last week covering around 15,000 hectares.
It would be reasonable to assume, after so much 1080 poison has been spread across the forest, there could be no sign of a ferret or stoat for miles - surely?
Not so. In the last 5 years, revealed through the DoC OIA request, 89 tagged kiwi, of all ages, have died in the Tongariro forest. Keeping in mind that the tagged kiwi only represent a fraction of the wild population, the actual numbers, from a population perspective, may be enormous.
More concerning is what's killing the birds. The assumed cause of death, in most cases ... is predation by ferret. We are told by DoC kiwi can defend themselves from mustelid attacks, once they reach 1.5kg in weight. Yet, many of these birds are adults.
When discussing the use of 1080, the DoC use sentences like "overwhelmingly successful", "very effective", "rapid knockdown" to justify their poisoning campaigns.
"It's the best tool we have for managing pests, and keeping predators at bay." At least that's what we're lead to believe by The Department of Conservation, the PCE, and Forest and Bird.
But what's really killing the birds? Surely not predators, going by what we're told about the effectiveness of 1080 at eliminating them. If it is predators, it would also be reasonable to say that the use of 1080 poison clearly isn't working. Surprisingly, given so much poison has been dropped across the forest, not a single kiwi from the 89 deaths has been tested for 1080 poison residues.
DoC say that the time-frames for the poison drops don't line up with the likelihood that 1080 could be a cause of death. Given the amount of poison dropped in the forest over the last 35 years, all endemic species found dead within the poisoned boundaries should be tested for poison residues, simply to eliminate toxins as a cause of death. Surely?
More concerning is the fact that in the last 15 years, with tens of millions of hectares of habitat being poisoned, only 5 kiwi across all of New Zealand have been tested for 1080 poison residues. It should be noted that kiwi are known to eat 1080 cereal bait, and 1080 residues have been detected in kiwi droppings.
On top of the 7 poisoned kea three weeks ago, the 3 poisoned kaka earlier in the year, the loss of 11 kiwi at Mt Bruce, 21 ruru in the Waitutu, the poisoned fernbirds, robins, tomtits and others, it is becoming more clear that the experiments with 1080 poison across our forests, aren't working.
After 35 years of poisoning campaigns, and desperately trying, there still isn't a single, credible scientific research paper that demonstrates a net population benefit to any native species through the use of aerially applied 1080 poison. Not one! And yet the drops continue.
Responsible, ground control methods do work. 50,000 hectares of the northern Te Urewera National Park is managed by DoC, trappers and volunteers. No aerial 1080 poison is used. We need to encourage, and replicate these methods, and eliminate the future use of aerially applied poisons.
The Election is less than two months away. If you'd like to see an end to 1080 poison, and more responsible, sensible methods of pest control implemented, please consider giving your party vote to UnitedFuture - the only party in government to make the banning of 1080, policy.