Monday, August 13, 2012

New website -

We've launched a new website Please take a look, and consider joining up to stay up to date with the latest on the wild adventures of The Graf Boys, in the outdoors of New Zealand.

Regards, Clyde and Steve Graf.

Taihape farmer speaks out about mass-poisoning of deer

Taihape farmer Allan Westerman was looking for his lost sheep when he chanced upon this disturbing event...

Court Testimony - Dr. Quinn Whiting-Okeefe

The following is a court testimony from Dr QuinnWhiting-Okeefe. Dr Whiting-Okeefe, with his wife Pat, has put a great deal of work into researching the use of 1080 poison in New Zealand. This is his recent court testimony...

Friday, June 1, 2012

1080 poem - delivered to Dr Jan Wright, at Te Papa

The following, powerful poem - was read out to Dr Jan Wright (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment), by Redwood Reider, at a recent Te Papa meeting...

"Sometimes our public servants need to hear the truth. In rhyme.

Serendipitously I recently was invited to be on a panel alongside Dr Jan Wright, the New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, at Te Papa, the NZ national museum. We were asked to speak on our passions and thought leadership regarding Te Whenua - The Land. As PCE, Jan Wright issued a major report in 2011 enthusiastically endorsing the use of 1080 poison in NZ. 1080 is banned in many countries, severely restricted in most others, and classed as "Class 1A - extremely toxic" (the highest possible toxicity rating) by the World Health Organization. The risks to wildlife and to humans are massive. Yet the NZ government tosses it across our country from helicopters as though it were candy. I live in the community of Golden Bay and many of us are sick of this highly toxic substance being dumped throughout the forested mountains that surround our community (as well as in the streams that supply many people's drinking water). So I took this opportunity to present Dr Wright with a special poem I wrote for her to express my feelings on the subject....

This poem is my own (Redwood Reider). Nothing in my speech is to be construed to represent the views of Te Papa or of Fulbright New Zealand (organisers of the event). "

Filmed by Iron Lung Panda

Monday, April 16, 2012

Anger at DOC's Cavalier attitude to Kea Deaths

Anger at DOC's Cavalier attitude to Kea Deaths

An anti-1080 lobby group Te Whare O Kaitiaki Ngahere is angry at the indifference of the Department of Conservation to kea and other native bird deaths from 1080 poisoning.
The comment follows the group's withdrawal from seeking a declaration through the Environment Court against the Minister and the Director General of Conservation. The Environment Court was unable to make the declaration against the Minister and the Department of Conservation made it clear to the Court that it does not view kea killing as a serious matter or one which concerns the New Zealand public said spokesperson Mary Molloy of Harihari, West Coast.
Shona Bradley, representing the Conservation Department in the Environment Court implied there was not “a genuinely held and wide-spread concern for the killing of such birds”.
Mr. Hunt and Mrs. Molloy representing Te Whare O Kaitiaki Ngahere, were surprised and angered by the statement they termed "ridiculous."
"On the other hand, we are not surprised the Department should want our wildlife viewed so casually. It seems government is trying to sweep bird deaths under the carpet since many aerial 1080 drops are carried out over public land by both the Department and the Animal Health Board," said Mary Molloy.
Kea numbers are estimated at between 1,000 to 5,000 and the rate of kill from 1080 has been up to 77% of monitored birds and particularly in open areas or low shrub land – preferred feeding areas she said.
The last kea kill in North Okarito was after the baits had been reformulated to make them less attractive to kea and all roads and tracks were being cleared by Department staff before the rotor blades had stopped moving.
"It is clear that 1080 must not be used in kea habitat. Indeed it poses a risk to not only kea but many birds especially falcons, moreporks, tomtits, robins as well as killing invertebrates such as insects, worms and others."
The fact that a poisoned insect or bird remains toxic and deadly to a bird preying on it in its deah throes, seems to escape DOC who are entrusted by law as guardians of native birds and the public estate."
Mary Molloy said that the Minister and Director General of Conservation can not be held accountable for these unacceptable losses of indigenous bird life was "absolutely scandalous."
Te Whare O Kaitiaki Ngahere intend seeking other remedies to make the killers of these kea responsible she added.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The real cost of aerial 1080 operations

The following letter is written by an experienced possumer - 17/03/2012

Hi Anne and Gerry,

I thought I might drop you a line and catch up with you guys. After all you were going to put some thought into our last email communication and get back to me. Which you never did.

I have been doing some thinking and doing in the meantime.

My thinking is probably not what you are interested in. However, you may be interested in my doing.

You have told me that DOC's full costs for an aerial 1080 operation works out at $12/ha. And you know this figure to be true because you have access to DOC's financial accounts and you have seen it for yourself.

I do not have the same clout you have. However, I do have access to the following the information recorded in the document with the title of "Bovine TB Strategy - Review of Costs" prepared by Outcome Management Services, dated 22 July 2010, In this document it is recorded that AHB spends, on aerial 1080 operations, $17.35/ha annually on the areas that it controls with aerial 1080. AHB averages 1 aerial 1080 operation every 3 years in these areas. This means that the cost of aerial 1080 operations are around $52/ha.

So why is it that, for you, it is so easy to obtain information and feel confident that you can publicly state a $12/ha figure that any one in their right mind, after researching and reading "Bovine TB Strategy - Review of Costs" would know would hardly even cover the cost of the 1080 pre-feed and toxic bait let alone all the other costs that are associated with an aerial 1080 operation.

I told you in an earlier email that I like my hunting close and personal. The very fact that you have told me that you have access to DOC's financial books and that you have written to me and told me this information tells me you are a liar. Me telling you that you are a liar is as close to hunting close and personal that I will ever get to hunting with or beside you. If my opinion of you ever gets onto the airwaves/net and causes you to lose money, I sincerely hope that you will come looking for me through the court system so that I can show NZ and the World what a BULLSHIT artist you and your Forest and Bird mates really are.

Cheers....Marty Foote

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Science vs Rhetoric

The following is an open letter from Dr. Quinn Whiting-Okeefe, to owners of a lodge near Lake Moeraki who unselfconsciously announced their firm support for forest mass poisoning. The letter defending the use of aerial 1080 is enclosed below...

Dear Anne and Gerry,

The ignorance of science evidenced by New Zealand's aerial 1080 program is breathtaking.  Do you seriously imagine that the "observations" that you have cited constitutes evidence that aerial 1080 is of net benefit to native species?

First, I can line up dozens expert environmentalists and woodmen with "experiences" just the  opposite of Doc propaganda's "dawn chorus" that you claim to have experienced.  They all say post-1080 forests are dead lifeless places with decreased bird activity.  Of course neither of you is to be believed.  What one learns from such anecdotes is the prejudices of the teller and nothing more.

Second, where we live we have everyone of the species you cite (except Kea) in abundance and somehow, miraculously I suppose, it has been done without aerial 1080.  Don't you see that we could just as rightly claim that our abundant bird populations are due to the absence of aerial 1080, as you can that yours are a consequence of its presence?

Third, to put it in scientific terms: you have no control, and therefore no validity (in fact virtually all of Doc's "research" has the same problem and in those studies that do have controls, they are badly flawed).  Controls are the essence of the scientific method and the ONLY way of reliably finding the truth about the real world.  What you really have is "20 years" of uncontrolled, unrecorded, unsystematised, un-quantitized, observations made and interpreted under a barrage of unrelenting Doc propaganda.  Doc spends $12M per year convincing people like you that giving them $100M to mass poison is the only way to save native species, and you are living proof the $12M is being effectively spent.

Fourth,  there is not a single scientifically credible study showing a net population benefit from aerial 1080 to any native species--not one, despite 20 years of Doc's trying to scrounge up one. (Please do not cite the Robin study, or the Mapara study or the Wirinaki study or any of the other junk science that gets passed off by Doc and F&B as showing benefit--I did say "scientifically credible").

Fifth, Doc's own evidence shows massive mortality among many native species after each 1080 drop (30% tomtits, 25% robins, 33% Kea, 15% Moreporks, and on and on., and as noted there is no credible evidence of benefit. 

Sixth, 2 years after 1080 drops the rat population doubles.  In three years the rat population triples. After 1080 drops, stoats switch their diet from about 85% mammals to 85% birds.  These are just two of the unintended consequences (all documented by non-Doc scientists) among the thousands that anyone who knows a stitch about ecology would predict to exist in the face from mass indiscriminate poisoning of a whole ecosystem.  Doc does not even look.  As noted, Doc has not documented benefit to a single native species let alone the whole ecosystem or looked for negative secondary and tertiary collateral damage.

Seventh, 1080 kills everything that breath air, in particular 50% of invertebrates die after 1080 drops.

Eigth, Doc's mindless and self-serving aerial 1080 "save-the-birds" program completely ignores the effect of competition from feral birds on native species: myna, magpies, sparrows, etc. all with growing populations that compete with native species.

Ninth, even if there were not all this evidence, your and Doc's premise is prima facia incredible:  who would believe that one could lace high quality food with a universal poison and drop in indiscriminately into an ecosystem and only affect two target feral species … the proposition is laughable everywhere in the world except in New Zealand where the laws of ecology have been suspended by an orgy of propaganda and blind uncritical belief.

Tenth, Doc habitually lies, misrepresents, and hides the truth.  The examples are too complex and numerous to lay out in detail here, but a single well documented example is illustrative: 40% of the Fox glacier Kea population were killed in one 1080 drop.  This tragedy was made public by a whistle blower, not by Doc, which apparently had every intention of not disclose it.  If it has been left up to Doc we would still not know what they did.  How can anyone claim to be an environmentalist and not oppose such outrageous behaviour?  And yet it evidently makes no difference despite all the lack of evidence of benefit, all the evidence of harm, there are legions who, though doubtlessly well meaning, "BELIEVE", and will believe until the last Kea outside of captivity is gone.

Finally, no other country in the world is doing, or ever has done, anything remotely similar to what Doc is doing in New Zealand (despite many other places having very similar situations with invasive native species).   How could a country be so benighted as to believe that this simplistic sledge hammer is a solution to such a complex ecological problem.  Do you imagine that Hawaiians don't care about there native birds or that the scientific juggernaut of the US has somehow missed Doc's brilliant insight: "got a feral mammal problem, poison everything and it will be alright".  Why do you imagine the world is not (and would not even consider) copying New Zealand, if there were real evidence that aerial 1080 were saving New Zealand's native birds.

Like I said the ignorance of science in New Zealand is breathtaking.

Quinn Whiting-Okeefe, MD, MA(Math), BA(Chemistry), FACMI

... In response to the following letter... 

Hi Pat,

What a pity that you will be unable to come and see for yourself the birdlife and the flourishing rata, mistletoe and giant fuchsia in the virgin forest of the Moeraki Valley.

We would love to help show you just what an extraordinary improvement there has been in the birdlife here with regular 1080 operations. This isn’t “bragging” but simply the detailed observations of two enthusiastic naturalists over a 22 year period.

We disagree with your alarmist comments below but we respect your right to free speech.
You need to also respect the fact that we do not agree with your views.

Here are our latest observations about NZ native bird and plant life here based on the last 22 years that we have lived here.
The native birdlife here at Lake Moeraki is now extraordinarily rich compared to years gone by. Bird numbers here, in our view, rival the offshore pest free islands that we have visited. Birdlife here shows a huge increase on the 1990s when we started the Wilderness Lodge in 1989. Our Nature Guide son Michael has worked on Little Barrier and Stewart Island and he confirms the comparatively high bird numbers here.

  • Dawn Chorus: There is an amazing dawn chorus. First just on dawn we always hear the whistle of kaka high on the ridges surrounding us. Then we hear dozens of bellbirds. Then a bit later (say 7am) the tui’s start and the pigeon get active as the sun comes out
  • Colenso’s Mistletoe, Fuchsia and Rata. The mistletoe is in excellent condition on the silver beech around the Lodge and currently in full flower. Because the mistletoe grow in the silver beech tree tops it is sometimes easier to locate the plants from the presence of petals/sepals on the forest floor. Fuchsia is healthy as are all the rata. Just north of us, in the Bruce Bay and Paringa area where there has been very little possum and pest control, rata, fuchsia and mistletoe have almost all disappeared because of possum browsing. 
  • Abundance of small birds: There is a constant noise of all the little birds. There are flocks of silvereye up to 100 strong. Tomtit are everywhere along the paths in close packed territories. Grey warbler, shining cuckoo, song thrush, blackbirds and brown creeper are abundant. We regularly hear parakeet here, a bird that was absent in the 1990s. Ecologists tend to focus with pest control measures on the bigger rare birds and forget about the little birds. Yet these little birds are the main victims of rats so benefit the most from rat control.
  • Kaka – this is now the signature special bird of the Moeraki Valley. In the early 1990s perhaps once every couple of months we would get very excited when we heard a solitary kaka from the ridge above the Lodge. Kaka were then very rare. This summer, we are hearing kaka every day virtually all day from dawn to dusk and sometimes after dark. They fly from the Abbey Rocks/Paringa Hills high across the valley to the Whakapohai-Knights Point country at a height of about 200 metres. The largest flock we have seen was 11 birds. They also fly from the ridge behind the Lodge to the tops of the kahikatea around the Lodge and back again. They rarely come down low around us but we did photograph kaka along the Monro Track. Their calls and whistles are amazing.
  • Kereru-Kukupa pigeon: Last night we counted 27 kereru around our reception area. They are feeding on fuchsia fruits and kowhai leaves. Pigeon numbers are fantastic here. There are no introduced plants or willows that they feed on (some people argue that you need these introduced plants to build up pigeon numbers). The key again seems to be a good food supply and above all predator control.
  • Kea. What Dr Graeme Elliott tells me is that we have a lowland kea population here. They don’t go to the mountains and are constantly all around the Lodge. We don’t feed them so they rarely come down close preferring to spend a lot of their time in the tree tops. At and after dusk, we hear them always from a tall kahikatea towards the Lake Moeraki outlet and we think it likely that they are nesting there. Today at 8.30am, 5 kea came and played on the lawn in front of our restaurant. The restaurant was full of guests at the time who loved it. 4 of the 5 kea were young birds with yellow beak tops and pale coloured heads. We hear kea here almost as frequently as we hear kaka.
  • Tui and Bellbird: These are abundant and clearly love all the food plants around (Fuchsia, mistletoe). Flax is not flowering here this year so the tui are going to the old flower stalks and flying away disappointed.
  • Falcon: A pair of falcon fledged 2 chicks over by our staff house and are now constantly feeding them
  • Morepork: We do a night walk every evening at 10.30pm and always hear up to 3 morepork calling around the Lodge. Morepork numbers are very high  with many birds all around the Lodge at night

Pest Control success: The DOC 1080 operation on 27 October 2011 across the 10,000ha Abbey Rocks block that surrounds us has clearly knocked the high rat, stoat and possum populations here to very  low levels. This is the 5th DOC 1080 operation across this forest since 1998 and every year we are seeing an increasing conservation & native biodiversity benefit from sustained and regularly repeated pest control.

Anne Saunders and Gerry McSweeney

Friday, January 27, 2012

Does aerial-dropped poisoned food benefit New Zealand's birds?

Dr Alexis Pietak has undertaken, and now completed, a review of the "mark-recapture" research used to support the use of 1080 poison-laced food to control introduced mammalian species in New Zealand forests. I have pasted the conclusions of her paper below, the remainder of her paper can be viewed by pressing the link, also below.

(Dr Alexis Pietak is a biomedical research scientist, biophysicist, and author who lived in New Zealand from 2005- May 2011. She specialised in biomaterials and biophysics research after completing a PhD in Physics from Queen's University in 2004, which followed her two university degrees in Engineering Physics (2000) and Biochemistry (2001). )


1080-poisoned food operations in NZ are supported on an extremely large scale of operation largely because of the apparent existence of a solid body of scientific evidence to support their selectivity, safety, and efficacy. Regarding birds, the main hypotheses of 1080-poisoned food advocates are that 1) aerial poisoned food drops are selective to mammals, and that 2) the benefits of mammalian predator removal for avian species outweigh the risks of death in an aerial 1080 operation. In this report support for these hypotheses were explored by first addressing the selectivity issue, and by assessing an existing hard data set composed of all mark-recapture bird surveys performed in New Zealand from 1986 to 2009 from the basis of experimental design and statistical criteria typically to evaluate scientific investigations and data. 

There is no basis to expect 1080-poisoned food operations are selective only to mammals. Birds with normal to high tolerance for 1080 can reach lethal doses by consuming 1080-poisoned food at 0.6 to 12.5 % of their daily food ration. In addition, there is no evidence that the cinnamon scent or colourings used to treat baits deters birds. Furthermore, secondary poisoning of insectivorous species may be possible from invertebrates containing 1080 toxin.  Food poisoned with compound 1080 cannot be assumed to be selective for mammals and hence, non-target deaths of a wide array of bird species remain a distinct possibility.

The exploration of the existing hard data set of 49 mark-recapture bird surveys conducted over 23 years revealed basic flaws in scientific experimental design including the overwhelming lack of a control group, small sample size, and short-term studies of three weeks or less follow-up time. On account of the small sample sizes, no study was able to reliably detect kill rates of 20% or lower, and 16% of studies could not reliably detect kill rates of up to 90%, making them completely ineffectual. A final issue with the existing hard data is the very large number of endemic birds that have not been studied and can easily be identified as being of high mortality risk due to corpses found after 1080-poisoned food operations and their innate feeding tendencies.
 Only one study investigated 1080-exposed and control groups with longer-term follow ups of several months and found no statistically significant difference in the lifespan in treated or non-treated birds. Only three investigations of breeding success were found, and two concluded with no detected difference between treated and untreated areas. Therefore, it can be concluded that there is only very limited evidence that aerial-dropped 1080-poisoned food may improve breeding success in two species (kereru and robin), one to two breeding seasons following a 1080-poisoned food drop.  

In conclusion, insubstantial hard data evidence was found to support the hypotheses of the mammalian selectivity of 1080-poisoned food, its low risk to a wide array of bird species, or to indicate long-term benefits to any bird species. In contrast, the existing data indicate that aerial 1080-operations may decimate certain endemic bird populations. As the risks of toxin persistence and secondary poisoning are higher for alternative toxins such as the anti-coagulants brodifacoum and pindone, an immediate moratorium on all aerial poisoned food operations is warranted. Continuous, controlled bait access methods for mammalian predator control (bait boxes and trapping) are recommended as an alternative to aerial dropped poisoned food.   

To view Dr. Pietak's full report, please click on the link below ...

About Dr. Alexis Pietak ...
Dr Alexis Pietak is a biomedical research scientist, biophysicist, and author who lived in New Zealand from 2005- May 2011. More information about Dr Pietak can be found at or contact Dr Pietak at
In previous years, I specialised in biomaterials and biophysics research after completing a PhD in Physics from Queen's University in 2004, which followed my two university degrees in Engineering Physics (2000) and Biochemistry (2001). Since then, I've worked as a scientific researcher at the University of Canterbury's Mechanical Engineering Department (biomaterials and biophysics), at Queen's University's Human Mobility Centre (tissue engineering), at the University of Canterbury's Chemistry Department (nanofabrication and biophysics), and at the University of Otago's Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology (biomaterials).

As of 2008, my life has transitioned from a role of mainstream researcher to one of an independent scientist. I’m currently exploring applications of complex systems theory to sustainability, as well as participating in a burgeoning scientific movement which seeks to embrace and develop holistic and alternative scientific views of life. I’m the author of the book, Life as Energy: Opening the Mind to a New Science of Life, published by Floris Books, UK, in February 2011. I also work as a scientific editor, helping people communicate technical ideas/results through peer-reviewed manuscripts, grant proposals, and theses. I aim to express my main ideas through conventional scientific avenues, and have successful published a number of peer-reviewed academic papers to date.

I became aware of the massive, large-scale use of aerial-dropped poisoned food in New Zealand while living there from February 2005 to May 2011. As a lover of nature, my common sense alerted me to the high capacity for widespread deaths of a large number of bird species in aerial poisoned food operations. I realized that aerial 1080-poisoned food drops received such governmental and public support because there apparently existed a solid body of scientific evidence to support their selectivity to mammals, and their overall safety and benefits to an ecosystem. In March of 2009 I began to search for this apparent scientific support, and was appalled at the flimsy and cherry-picked ‘evidence’ that I found.  Today I’m proud to join ranks with those fighting to stop the catastrophe of aerial poisoned food drops in New Zealand.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Letter to the New Zealand Ecological Society.

A Letter to the New Zealand Ecological Society.
 - By Bill Benfield - 
The editorial (following at the end of this letter) of the December edition of the NZ Ecological Society’s newsletter is an interesting window into the mind of one of those involved in New Zealand’s conservation science. While the editor may not be the society, it is reasonable to expect that the editor’s views and attitudes would reflect those of the ecological society as a whole.

It chronicles the events of the year, starting with Prime Minister John Key's likening ecologists to lawyers, much to her chagrin. It then recounts the editor’s travels, in the first instance, beset by the sight of posters on the West Coast seeking to ban 1080. She questions the motives, or "just the plain ignorance" of those responsible. Her second event was an encounter that left her feeling frustrated with a fellow passenger "misinformed about 1080" on an airline and who, despite her obvious badgering, failed to accept her views. She reflects that people only take on new information that supports their view. In her blinkered vision, does she not see that it is her, and even possibly the Ecological Society itself, that is equally as guilty of failing to see the legitimacy of other viewpoints?

The editorial outlines coming advocacy strategies of an ecological society that believes its ends can be best achieved by carpet bombing the land with a deadly universal poison; even to the indoctrinating of young children - shades of the Hitler Youth! Of course, if the arguments supporting 1080 were sound, there would be no need for indoctrination as advocated by the editor of the Ecolgical Society's  newsletter - see Editorial below.

It is interesting to consider the pre-disposition displayed in this editorial when looking at the society’s role as the publisher, through its journal, of peer reviewed scientific articles on the impacts and benefits of aerial 1080 operations. 

Typical would be a study to determine the effects of 1080 on kaka and kereru survival and nesting success. It is cited by both DoC and Forest and Bird as a success story for 1080. (Powlesland R.G. Wills D.E. August A.C.L. & August C.K. Effects of a 1080 operation on kaka and kereru survival and nesting success, Whirinaki Forest Park. New Zealand Journal of Ecology. Vol 27 No2. 2003. P 125 to 127.). What is interesting about this study is that there is a poisoned area and an un-poisoned control. The impacts of the poisoning are monitored for the "predators" (possum, rats and stoats) in both areas and the results compared. They show aerial 1080 is a stunning success story for stoats whose numbers have exploded post poisoning; rats have recovered to their former levels in two years. Slow breeding possum have logically not recovered, but it is claimed fur recovery operations in the control area have depressed that population to the same level as in the poisoned area. For the kaka and kereru, the results on survival and breeding success between the poisoned area and the un-poisoned control have been combined, so absolutely no conclusion can be drawn as to the benefits or otherwise arising from 1080 operations. 

It begs the question, would the results have been combined if field observations had shown a clear and conclusive benefit to the birds from 1080 poisoning? The abstract then claims that aerial 1080 "should" benefit these bird populations. There is absolutely no evidence it "should" or "should not" benefit. Although the study is meaningless in terms of what it set out to achieve, it does provide compelling evidence that predators are the real beneficiaries of aerial 1080 and, as the result for the birds has been concealed, we are left to assume that the consequences for them were dire.

Other peer reviewed studies published by the society reveal similar flaws:-Sweetapple P. Fraser K. and Knightbridge P. "Diet and impacts of brushtail possum across an invasion front in South Westland". New Zealand Journal of Ecology28(1) 2004. P19 -33. This study claims in the abstract, the part most people read, that forest bird populations "declined with increasing length of possum occupation". In the body of the report, it changes its tune to "weak support" for the hypothesis that native bird numbers decrease with increased length of possum occupation. From examination of the actual observations a case can be made that there is an increase in bird numbers with increasing length of possum occupation.

Another would be the often cited Powlesland R, Knegtmans J, Styche A. "Mortality of North Island tomtits (Petroica macrocephala toitoi) caused by aerial 1080 possum control operations, 1997-98, Pureora Forest Park". New Zealand Journal of Ecology 24(2): 161-168 (2000). This study is claimed by DoC to show the beneficial effects of aerial 1080 to tomtits, robins and moreporks. To the untrained the study looks sound, but to scientists, Drs. Pat & Quinn Whiting O’Keefe, there is significant and deceptive use of statistical analysis of the raw data. They also found tests of statistical significance were not used to support major conclusions. The only explanation they could offer is deliberate misrepresentation. (Drs. Pat & Quinn Whiting O’Keefe. "Aerial Monoflouroacetate in New Zealand’s Forest". Submission to ERMA. 2007.)

The question has to be asked, is this peer reviewed science, as published by the New Zealand Ecological Society, the result of incompetence or is it a deliberate and ethically questionable manipulation of data to suit an agenda? The December editorial would suggest the latter but, either way, I think many people would call it "junk science". It certainly does nothing for the reputation and integrity of New Zealand science. The real tragedy is that it is the "science" used to justify the continued destruction of New Zealand’s unique beautiful wildlife and forests. It is used by people such as the Parliamentary Commissioner of the Environment in the preparation of her report endorsing the continued use of 1080. It is used by both DoC and the Royal Forest & Bird "Protection" Society to support their venal objectives to the expense of New Zealand’s conservation.

Clearly, to have any credibility, the New Zealand Ecological Society should immediately examine the role of its journal editors. The whole published catalogue should then be properly scrutinised and purged of rubbish such as the examples here. When you think about it, it is lawyers who may feel aggrieved by John Key likening them to ecologists!
Yours Faithfully. W.F. Benfield.
(W.F. Benfield is the author of the book "The Third Wave – Poisoning the Land" published by Tross Publishing. E-mail Address <>

A series of recent events has convinced me of the importance of getting sound ecological knowledge out into the public domain. John Key’s BBC interview in which he likened ecologists to lawyers was a shocker. A West Coast holiday with anti-1080 "Poisoning Paradise" posters lining the otherwise empty roads was hardly surprising. The "Ban 1080" election hoardings placed by vote-hungry (or possibly just plain ignorant) politicians were rather more galling. A random conversation on a flight home from Auckland with a stranger misinformed about 1080 but unprepared to read about the facts (good and bad) left me feeling particularly frustrated. Perhaps it was a manifestation of the phenomenon observed by social scientists that people tend to only take on board new information that supports the viewpoint they already hold.
So what can we do as individual ecologists and as a society? In the short term, it’s policy makers, politicians and other decision makers that we need to influence. Some politicians never let the facts get in the way of a good story, so maybe these ones are a lost cause. But I’m pleased to say that Fleur Maseyk has taken on the role of Submissions Officer for the NZ Ecological Society, so we will now be able to respond much more effectively to important issues. In the long term, we need to dramatically improve the ecological knowledge of the general public. Ultimately, the New Zealand public will decide the future of our country by how they vote and their submissions during public consultation. I’ve always said we need to indoctrinate children when they’re young—I’ll be keeping that in mind when doing my Christmas shopping this year!