As the 1080 debate rages, Kapiti Independent correspondent Jeremy Smith gives an impartial and informed view of what’s happening with the 1080 poison.
Jeremy says 1080 is a major weapon in the campaign to control rabbits and possums.
Farmers and conservationists, who disagree on some issues certainly back this one: 1080 works : it kills the pests.
Declaration of interest
Now a declaration of interest. This writer is a Forest and Birder. He is also the product of a Canterbury high country farming environment which means rabbits from the days when strychnine was the poison de jour. He has personally dispatched possums by hand. He has also used gorse and blackberry sprays like 24D and 245-T (agent orange) and wishes he hadn’t. So he is not keen on poisons.
The anti-1080 argument
Anti-1080 people also agree that it works but they say it kills much more and is a danger.
The argument even spilled onto the steps of Parliament when the speaker questioned whether some dead birds delivered as part of a petition had been killed by 1080 or bludgeoned.
A West Coast man called Alan Gurden says he was “appalled” that the speaker Trevor Mallard could make such a claim.
If Mr Gurden ends up before a Parliamentary committee he may also be appalled by some of the questions he may be asked. And they may well come from MPs who have no particular stance for or against the use of 1080.
It is useful to go back a step and look at 1080 as one of a number of campaigns about using poisons and additives, to food and particularly our water. Among others these include fluoride in public drinking water.
The similarities between the anti-fluoride campaign and anti-1080 are clear. The experts say both do what they are supposed to: kill pests or improve dental health. And both applied properly are not a danger, they say. The antis don’t agree with this at all.
Missing, to my knowledge from this list is chlorine, one of the deadliest elements there is (as in chlorine gas). Rendered into the appropriate form it is used to chlorinate our public water. Without it millions of people would be dead.
The Havelock North water contamination was the wakeup call about fresh water. And Christchurch, which always trumpeted its pure artesian water has been chlorinating.
The Three Waters Review
Now the government is considering proposals which may see councils lose their control over water supply and disposal to a national body. The three waters are blue(drinkable) grey (stormwater) and brown( sewage). The proposals are related mostly to money: many councils don’t have the money to renew or upgrade their water network.
The link to 1080 is where water catchments comes out of the bush covered hills. The munchers-in chief of this bush are possums . So the catchments have to be protected.
The two biggies.
New Zealand’s economy rests largely on what the Chinese might call The Two Bigs: grass farming and tourism.
Here’s the problem: both depend on certain inputs, phosphates and nitrates among others in the farming sector. These green pastures you can drive past on the state highway are entirely man-made. And the run off is affecting our waterways.
Tourism may seem better: clean and green ,100 per cent pure.
But them-there green hills are under threat folks, possums, mustelidae (ferrets, stoats etc rats and so on) and also deer, pigs, goats, thar and chamois. There are wide-ranging and expensive programmes to control these by culling. Tourists also pay good money to go out and bang away to keep the numbers down. It helps but not enough.
Fred Dagg approach hasn’t helped
The case for 1080 has not always been helped in the past by a ‘Fred-Dagg kick-her –in-the- guts -Trev’ approach to application.
Undoubtedly 1080’s demise will come. It will be superseded by a number of other controls. They may include genetic modification: Green Party supporters better put their fingers over the eyes here.
These are the tough decisions we face and argue about.
And a final note. Some anti-1080 campaigners have made personal threats against employees of the Department of Conservation.
These are people employed by me and you to carry out government policies. I suggest that any extra-legal action would deeply discredit the 1080 campaign.