We trust that all New Zealanders and Wellingtonians in particular, see the benefits and support this essential work that needs doing now. Lou Sanson, Director-General of the Department of Conservation
Playing fast and loose with the truth
By Roger Childs and Bill Benfield
Speak about the Battle for our Birds and you take the high moral ground. Forget about the fact that many birds are predators and eat other bird and their eggs.
DoC’s Lou Sanson’s article in the DomPost Tuesday November 15 2016, did not tell the full story about what has gone on, and will be going on in the Rimutaka. He spoke about the birds of the Rimutaka …(being)… under severe predator pressure.
This he said justified … two short, sharp predator-busting operations that will reclaim and restore the native forest habitat of the southern Rimutaka Range. Towards the end he slipped in that these would involve aerial 1080 operation …
1080 poisons the land and kills birds and insects
This is the reality and obviously rats, stoats and possums die an agonising death too.
However some rats survive and renew breeding with the rapidity for which they are well known.
It is very unfortunate that the general public, aided and abetted by the mainstream media, are fed myths about the desirability and supposed benefits of dumping a poison on our land which is banned in many countries around the world.
Unfairly pillorying the possum
Another myth which Lou Sanson propagated in his article, is the danger posed by possums. Possums are the main transmitter of TB to cattle … With this false premise, he goes on to write about this causing … devastating emotional and financial impact on individual farmers and the rural communities in which they live. Add to this the threats to beef, dairy and venison export industries …
Mr Sanson well knows what Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, stated in parliament earlier this year: … that over a ten year period, 124,000 autopsied possums showed an incidence of 0.04 per cent while 9830 possums autopsied last year showed zero incidence.
The DomPost obviously did not check the facts in Mr Sanson’s article, however they had no compunction is refusing to publish Bill Benfield’s response to the Rimutaka pest article.
Bill points out details that DoC would rather the public didn’t hear about. The full letter is set out below.
Deliberately infecting possums with Tb???
Lou Sanson’s opinion piece of 15/11/16 should sound alarm bells with all users of the Rimutakas. It was MP Trevor Mallard who alerted the public to the fact that OSPRI and Landcare Research had released possum deliberately infected with Tb in what was previously the Tb free Rimutakas.
It was the reporters of the “Eastbourne Herald” who revealed that 256 deliberately infected animals had been released there over some years. As Tb can cross species to humans, this would seem a grossly irresponsible, possibly illegal activity done for no more purpose than to create a body of infection in the wild and so provide a pretext for DoC to apply its “poison of choice”, aerial 1080.
Because possum are a solitary species, it is unlikely that the Tb will spread and be maintained amongst them. As this is the most likely scenario, there seems little purpose in further poisoning the area except to deepen a worsening crisis of declining bird populations arising from continual poisoning of their habitat with an indiscriminate poison that kills everything.