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


  1. Marty - are you calculating your figures from "Table 3.2: Vector control contracted work"?

    How often does AHB repeat ground control work, if 1080 is every 3 years?

    1. Hi Aaron,

      The figure needs to be calculated, however, it is quite plain that AHB is spending $17.35/ha/yr over the whole area AHB has allocated to aerial 1080 work.

      The 3 year interval is recorded in a number of AHB and scientific documents.

      I'd say ground control would vary quite considerably as most ground control is farmland with a large variation of land types from clear dairy farms to steep, scuby hill country.


  2. Marty, I think you've made a mistake. You're claiming the AHB is only treating 351,267ha with aerial 1080 in TOTAL, not in 09/10 alone?

    You know a lot more about ground possum control than me - what would be a typical interval for ground control?

  3. Hi Aaron,

    That's right. Either AHB is treating 350,000ha in total with aerial 1080 or AHB is treating in excess of 1,000,000ha with aerial 1080 on a 3 year cycle (or up to 2,500,000ha with aerial 1080 if the 7 year cycle, that AHB sometimes bandy about is believed). The total area that AHB is planning on controlling, including farmland, is 2,500,000ha.

    When I was trapping in the 90's the AHB formula for ground control on farms was an initial followed by a second control 1,2 or 3 years later. There were always reasons for the different time frames, however, they never made much sense to me as the work I was doing showed me where to target TB hotspot infectious possum den sites and there very few possums left after I had gone through an area. And then after that the AHB possum control work appeared to relate to TB reactors and budget requirements. I understand that not a lot has changed.

    What is your interest in possum control? Are you financially involved with the possum control or 1080 industry?


  4. No, not financially involved in either.

    In the 2007 ERMA Application is says this: "The total possum control area managed by AHB, referred to as the Area Under Sustained Management (AUSM), is about 8.1 million ha. Periodic aerial 1080 operations are used to control possums over about 22% of this AUSM (1.8 million ha)."

    Looks like the 351,267ha is just the amount for that 1 year. Do you agree?

  5. Hi Aaron,

    The following is taken directly off the AHB site:

    "The TB control programme has made significant gains over the past decade, especially in reducing the number of infected cattle and deer herds. However, TB-infected possums continue to be a source of livestock infection across some 10 million hectares of New Zealand’s TB Vector Risk Area. The revised strategy sets out to address this underlying problem by aiming to eradicate TB from possum populations in selected areas. These areas make up 25 per cent, or 2.5 million hectares, of the total area of New Zealand known to contain infected wild animals. Achieving this objective will also confirm that TB can be eradicated from possums and other wild animals across large forest tracts where possum control is most challenging.

    Eradicating TB from the possum population across one quarter of the total area known to be at risk from TB-infected wild animals would also from a basis for extending the eradication approach to further large areas of New Zealand."

    It looks like to me that AHB made false claims to ERMA. Do you not agree?


  6. Sorry Marty, you've mis-read that. Note the key word is 'selected':

    ".. aiming to eradicate TB from possum populations in SELECTED areas. These areas make up 25 per cent, or 2.5 million hectares"

    That's not the TOTAL area receiving some control - on the same website, on the Vector Control page, it says "These programmes are carried out on more than SIX MILLION hectares of land nationwide and target mostly possums and ferrets, since they are the main TB vectors in New Zealand."

    Looks like they've reduced the area since 2007, which is good. Still seems that the 351,267ha is just one year's aerial 1080 though, correct?

  7. This is from the ERMA 1080 Annual Report, Nov 2010:

    "The report covers aerial use of 1080 in the 2009 calendar year. There were 64 aerial operations in 2009, covering approximately 510,000 hectares. This is similar to 2008, when there were 74 operations over 600,000 hectares."

    1. The DOC aerial operational area in the Tararuas, up until 2010, was in excess of 70,000ha. DOC has shrunk it to 22,000ha.

      At the same time AHB is increasing their operational native bush area in the likes of the Kaimanawas and Ureweras in places where there are no farmed deer or cattle herds.

      Tell me, why is AHB's information so general and ambiguous? and why does AHB not just release all their full costings and monitoring results for all their operations?

  8. Hi Aaron,

    You will notice that the ERMA quote you put up says: "Periodic aerial 1080 operations are used to control possums over about 22% of this AUSM (1.8 million ha)." This also includes the areas that DOC treated with aerial 1080. I still believe that AHB was only controlling over a total of 351,000ha and DOC was doing the rest.

    The other questions you might like to ask yourself is: "If AHB is so sure that what they are saying publicly is robust, why do they not want any regular independent public auditing process to take place on their expenditure and operations?" and "Why does AHB not come under the OIA?"


  9. Sorry Marty, that is wrong. The quote clearly says it is AHB area ONLY; DoC area is additional.

    AHB Annual Reports are online

    For the 09/10 year they list 233,000ha aerial control, and for 10/11 year 352,000 ha.

    You're wrong to say AHB is only aerially controlling 351,000 ha in TOTAL.

    1. Hi Aaron,

      You might be interested to learn that AHB was involved with a 29,000ha aerial 1080 operation in the Tararuas in 2010. All of that 29,000ha area is a part of the problem TB area that AHB is paid to deal with. Of the 29,000ha, 22,000ha was Project Kaka, which DOC paid for and claims credit for.

      So where does the line between AHB and DOC get drawn?


  10. Someone less charitable than me might think you are trying to change the subject, Marty!

    The EPA's 2010 Annual Report on the Aerial Use of 1080 is online here:

    It lists the annual (calendar year) AHB use of aerial 1080 as follows:

    2008 435,000ha
    2009 309,000ha
    2010 263,000ha

    This is IN ADDITION TO aerial 1080 use by DOC as follows:

    2008 133,000ha
    2009 174,000ha
    2010 161,000ha

    You made a mistake, why not just admit it? There is more information out there you have missed by focussing on this.

  11. Hi Aaron,

    Fortunately for me there are other, more influential people than you in government, that believe that the aerial 1080 industry is spending more money than AHB and DOC are publicly stating.

    I would suggest that you do a bit more research on the subject. I would also suggest that you do more than just read and regurgitate information from organisations that have a vested interest in promoting the current 1080 industry model.


  12. What on earth are you talking about Marty? We're not talking about money, just areas, and I'm not in Government. LOL.

    You started this thread by regurgitating stats from a paper funded by MAF. That's ironic, isn't it. ;)

    If you can't admit a simple mistake, is there much point continuing this discussion?

  13. Hi Aaron,

    Go back to the original email I sent to the McSweeny's. It was about the cost of aerial 1080. You are certainly behaving like a government pro-1080 person or one of their supporters.


  14. Now you're playing the man not the ball. That's a pity, and a sure sign you've lost the argument.

    It was a simple mistake you made Marty, working on the wrong total area. Never mind, better luck next time.

  15. Hi Aaron,

    Neither of us know what the truth is regarding the true amount of money spent on aerial 1080 or the true amount of area that is being controlled with aerial 1080.

    The reason for this is that neither AHB or DOC is prepared to put the true dollars and true area in the same document.

    I am very sorry that you think that I am playing the man (I gather that you think that is you) and not the ball. I've always played the ball, however, the managers of the "1080 Possum Control Union" have consistently changed the rules and also employed refs that will always blow the whistle, in order to stop the game, whenever the teams that the "1080 Possum Control Union" is backing are losing.


  16. Calling someone a "BULLSHIT artist" is pretty much the epitome of playing the man, Marty.

    As I said, your repeated attempts to cover your obvious mistake have diverted you from some interesting info. Check out Table 3.4, and the following paragraphs.

  17. Hi Aaron,

    When someone has built themselves up to a point where they have public credibility and then tells outright lies (like having access to DOC accounts and spouting $12/ha aerial 1080 costings based on personally seeing and analysing those same accounts) they deserve everything they get.

    I do, and have always, realised that there are two other references to aerial 1080 costings. One states that aerial 1080 had climbed above $35/ha and the other lists individual components of aerial 1080 costings that if they were added up would indicate that an aerial 1080 operation would cost in excess of $50/ha.

    There is no clear aerial 1080 costings given. However, there are very clear costings given for ground control, which, when are given to what AHB call deep bush and what I would call trappable bush, are pretty much way over the top at $80/ha.

    Again, I remind you that neither of us know what the truth is as neither DOC or AHB will come clean on their true aerial 1080 costings or the true area they are controlling with aerial 1080.