Introduced by Leslie Clague
(To see the earlier instalments, refer to the New Zealand’s Biodiversity section at the top.)
Poisons don’t discriminate
By Jim Hilton
Modern science tells us 80% or more of the targeted wildlife species are killed by poisons. Stoats, rats, possums, deer, pigs, goats, tahr, chamois and wallaby are now in very low numbers in the forests which are regularly poisoned. We also know that 70% or more of non-target wildlife, like robins, tomtits, frogs and insects, are also killed.
All we are doing with aerial poisons like 1080 is constantly diluting our wildlife, native and introduced. It is an expensive exercise in futility, financially unsustainable, ecologically unsustainable and not doing the job of saving species at all. It is killing them, some faster than others.
Predator free or poison free?
Despite the use of repellents to make the baits unattractive to some species, poisons are still basically non-selective. Our latest organisation to promote even more poisoning is “Predator Free New Zealand.”
How anyone with a reasonable understanding of how wildlife interacts with its environment can think New Zealand’s food web can survive without predators is a mystery to me. It defies the basic rules of biology.
That way our remaining native forests will more resemble their pre-human state of 800 years ago: a well tracked forest with an open under storey, where our rare and endangered birds like kakapo, takahe and saddleback can again thrive.
The world wants uncontaminated food
The future looks promising. Worldwide, countries are insisting on uncontaminated food products; they want ethically farmed natural food products. They don’t want food pumped up with artificial chemicals and tainted with faint traces of biological poisons. Modern analytical laboratories can measure contaminants down to parts per trillion.
Modern medicine has discovered that endocrine-disrupting poisons like 1080 can reduce fertility and cause birth defects at levels as low as parts per trillion. The sophisticated markets which pay top dollar for our export produce are insisting more and more on a clean bill of health.
They have the testing procedures to make sure we play by the rules. Natural diseases like TB are easily avoided; not so the damaging effects of pollutants from our industrial age.
Modern tourists want to visit a country which is genuinely clean and green, not one where clean and green is simply a marketing slogan.
Freedom of information about science
Modern computing has changed the way we educate ourselves and the way in which new science filters through to the public. The scientific information, which underpins the cornerstones of how we live, is available at the tap of a hand-held smart phone or the click of a mouse on a computer keyboard.
Science can be quickly read, discussed and debated electronically. As quickly as one interest group tries to protect its patch and hang on to its market share, another interest group is demanding freedom of information and consensus.
These forces will hopefully bring back a real biodiversity to New Zealand.