“Unrealistic, unattainable and ecologically destructive.”
The Sporting Hunters’ Outdoor Trust has condemned the much vaunted Predator Free 2050 campaign as “unrealistic, unattainable and ecologically destructive”.
The Trust’s spokesman Laurie Collins of West Coast said the Department of Conservation’s obsession with eradicating predators flew in the face of biological reality.
“Predators in a balanced ecosystem are an essential part of the established food chain,” he said.
Scientists back up the hunters
Laurie Collin’s comment was in support of two scientists Associate Professor Wayne Linklater from Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Biological Sciences and ecologist Dr Jamie Steer, a Senior Biodiversity Advisor at the Greater Wellington Regional Council who recently said Predator Free 2050 was based on three flawed assumptions:-
- that predator extermination was the best way to protect biodiversity
- that there was a need to eradicate every stoat, rat and possum to protect biodiversity.
- that complete eradication of predators was possible.
Laurie Collins said predators existed everywhere and were part of Nature’s food web.
- Whales preyed on krill,
- falcon preyed on tui and bellbird,
- morepork preyed on native lizards
- rats preyed on mice while stoats preyed on rats.
Upsetting nature’s balances
However attempted eradication by use of ecosystem poisons like 1080 upset the balance between species. Research had shown eliminating most but not all rats, enabled surviving rodents to erupt in numbers so within three to four years of a poison drop, numbers were three times original population.
“And along the way to the futile eradication dream, the poison has killed birds and he invertebrate creatures such as insects that are food to a number of avian species.”
Laurie Collins said it defied belief that public servants were stubbornly aiming to achieve the impossibility of extermination and that politicians like National’s Nick Smith and Maggie Barry and more recently the new Minister of Conservation Eugene Sage were in pursuit of “the unachievable”.
The horrific damage of 1080
Laurie Collins who in his working career had firsthand experience of 1080 from its first use in New Zealand in 1958 and in later years, said the realisation of the poison’s indiscriminate killing powers and slow cruel death to birds and animals compelled him to strongly oppose its use.
“But then 1080 is the tool for an ideologically driven impossible dream in Predator Free 2050. It is ecologically stupid and senseless,” he said.
He said the fact that kiore rat were introduced over 700 years ago and ship rats at least 200 years ago, showed the lack of responsible thinking by adherents of Predator Free 2050.
“If rats as predators were going to wipe out birds it’s logical they would have done so within 50 years. But as predator-prey relationships established, birds were abundant for centuries until a mere 30 years ago when the poison industry began,” he said.
Hunters are responsible conservationists
“Sporting hunters are often strong conservationists,” he said. ‘They love the mountains, the forests and wildlife in total.”
Hunters had a proud record in conservation and in the 1970s “Save Manapouri Campaign” which protested against the National government wanting to raise the lake to supply power to a foreign consortium’s aluminium smelter, hunters were to the fore.
Laurie Collins began his working career in the Forest Service and worked on the first use of 1080 on fallow deer in the Caples Valley, Lake Wakatipu.
“I’ve worked with the poison and it’s an indiscriminate killer of wildlife in general, even down to insects as it was first developed as an insecticide in the 1920s. It poisons and kills anything that ingests it. Besides it’s a slow acting cruel poison.”
However above that the poison has no justification and was being used for ideological reasons like Predator Free 2050 and had no justification.
1080 is a slow cruel killer and deer get killed. But hunters care for all wildlife says Laurie Collins.