More DoC Deception On 1080 And Possums

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

The public needs the full story and the truth Mr Sanson
The public needs the full story and the truth Mr Sanson

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

1080 is not humane
1080 is not humane

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 …

possumMr 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???

rimutakasLou 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.

Bill Benfield,




Sue your comment on my statement is a non-sequitor. Firstly the anti-1080 demonstration was not “mine” and I was not involved. Secondly, the validity of an issue is not equated with numbers at a demonstration..The right to vote for women started with a handful of campaigners. Similarly with other issues that you and I take for granted -for example the removal of the death penalty in NZ or the 8 hour working day or the banning of child labour or the banning of the use of dioxin-containing 245T. All these campaigns started with a small group of people challenging the accepted culture of the times.Often with a challenge to the ethics of the situation. Or a challenge to the science as in the case of 245T. Even our Department of Health declared 245T containing mutagenic dioxin as safe. They were wrong. Farmers declared that the economy would collapse if 245T would be banned. They were wrong.Sue, your work of being an evangelist for aerial dispersal of 1080, banned in most countries of the world, is also on the wrong side of history.

“Unbeknown to me, there were two companies involved with poison bait technologies, Connovations Ltd and Connovations Research Ltd.

The companies are not connected. Kerr was involved with Connovations Ltd, and Eason with the latter.

Eason was not a fellow director with Kerr. I apologise for any embarrassment my error may have caused Charles Eason.”

Oh Sue Boyde, what a help to the world you are. Unfortunately it is not correct to say that soil organisms at current temperatures (?) break down 1080. The soil organisms that may play a role in the breakdown of 1080 are very rare in NZ, and work has only been done in the laboratory on a hypothetical not actual case.
Similarly for the chemical bond of 1080 to break in water, conditions must be 20-30 degrees (the water), still (not moving) and in sunlight, all three very rare in NZ bush and downright unexpected at the present moment with our cool Spring.
Tbfree has ensured that possum in the wild have Tb in that it has worked with Landcare NZ at Lincoln to infect possums (a four year trial to find a way) inoculated possums with Tb and released them into the Rimutakas and other areas of NZ. That smacks of patch protection to me.
Similarly they have released pigs all over the place to see if possum exists in the wild, pigs being an indicator species. There is no way only assumption, to say that these pigs did not already have Tb. They certainly had trichonosis and have spread that far and wide, another well done Tbfree.
Sue’s photographs showing possums waiting patiently in cattle pasture until smelled and licked by cattle are another supposition as the photographs were created by doping a possum and when that didn’t work, wiring it to the ground so that the cattle could get to it. Very humane and scientific, Sue but done by Tbfree to show you that possums can spread Tb to cattle. As LLoydHanson says, it is bovine Tb not possum Tb. Possums are quite solitary except when carrying young , sharing accommodation only occurs when an area is being first populated by possums and suitable places are at a premium.
While NIWA does some tests, generally the “applicator” does the tests and sends the samples to NIWA or Landcare to test. Basically even the Ministry of Health does not say that 1080 in water is safe. The Americans are well aware how hard it is to test for a known quantity of 1080 and that is why they called for an end to 1080 use. They quickly realised that 1080 in water is so hard to find it is a perfect terrorist weapon, tasteless, colourless and odourless and with no antidote.
Your inane comments Sue regarding dogs, shows that you are entirely unaware how dogs are poisoned by 1080 and that they do not even have to leave their own home backyards to be poisoned by this poison.
Birds of course have been proven by DOC to die at 10% to 80% of a particular species – it is not alright to kill our native species and is does not result in mammoth increases to the population or we would not have such a durth of native species remaining in regularly 1080d areas.
People who promote the “harmless” nature of 1080 should be held fully culpable for the destruction which many can see and all will eventually realise. Your day of reckoning is not far away, many species are decidedly uncommon even now.

Sue Boyde never ceases to amaze. That Professor Ian Shaw, Professor of Toxicology at Canterbury University has done no work on 1080? What crystal ball gives her that knowledge? She claims we should defer to the knowledge of Charles Eason; what we do know is that one of Eason’s fellow directors at Connovation Ltd. was Jeremy Kerr, the man jailed for blackmail over the 1080 in infant formula incident. Unlike Eason, Professor Shaw’s work is of the highest repute and accessible to the public. An article by him published in the Dominion Post of 13/3/2015 is a cogent summary of the toxicity of 1080.
He states that “This is because our green and pleasant land uses 1080 regularly; other countries have either banned or severely restricted its use because of its non-discriminatory (nature) and extreme toxicity.”
And further “1080 could spell the death to any cell it enters. It does not discriminate between cells or target animal. Providing the cell has a citric acid cycle, it is doomed.” “So, if anyone tells you that 1080 can discriminate between pests and native animals they are talking complete and utter rubbish.”
Obviously Sue Boyde and her crystal ball do not like scientists who tell it like it is, and Professor Shaw clearly conveys that birds will be poisoned as equally as “pests”. To say otherwise is in his own words, “complete and utter rubbish”! That is the tragedy of New Zealand’s toxic conservation.
On the issue of bovine Tb, a paper co-authored by OSPRI spin doctor Nick Hancox is just that – spin. My information is from Parliamentary OIA No 07074(2016) supplied to MP Richard Prosser’s office by Minister Nathan Guy. Is Sue Boyde suggesting the Minister is not reliable?
Poisoning our land with a “super toxin” to save our birds is a nations collective insanity that will in time kill all the precious birds not protected behind wire, and leave us with impoverished forests. One day, the penny will drop, and we as a nation will realise what we have been doing – hopefully sooner rather than later.

It is indeed unfortunate for Lou Sanson that he shows his absolute lack of understanding of the humble possum where he states that the TB possum infects cattle!
Btb is “bovine tuberculosis” and as such is actually a cattle host based disease so Lou sorry ol’chap but you are totally wrong! One only has to look at the figures Mr Orman has quoted to realise that Doc are wasting taxpayers money chasing a false assumption but in the pursuit of a dream we have to pay for their mistakes time and time again!
Look at Agent Orange, thalidomide, flouride, DDt etc and what it cost our people personally health wise but of course Government are ALWAYS RIGHT?
Time to wake up you voting public STOP THIS MADNESS!

Lloyd Hanson clearly needs to understand the realities of bovine TB in NZ. To avoid embarrassing oneself one needs to know the facts before pronouncing.

This paper gives the history of bovine TB in NZ, how they worked out that possums are a vector, the accomplishments and future direction of the program.

Toward eradication: the effect of Mycobacterium bovis infection in wildlife on the evolution and future direction of bovine tuberculosis management in New Zealand
PG Livingstone, N Hancox, G Nugent, and GW de Lisle
NZ Vet J 2015

great spin, will keep Tbfree in business way past its use-by date – Oh it is past that now

New Zealand’s profitable state run poisons industry public relations relies on advocates working on the Goebbels principal. If the lie is big enough, and you say it often and loud enough, the people will believe you. I am reminded of that whenever I see Sue Boyde leap into print.
Taking her items as enumerated.
1) 1080 breakdown in the carcases of its victims can be as slow as a year making it a chain killer of scavengers (dogs), the birds that eat the maggots and the birds like fantails that eat the flies. Breakdown in the soil depends on temperature, and can take months. 1080 dilutes quickly in streams, so timing of sampling is critical it is easy to get a clear. 1080 in water can be at levels capable of endocrine disruption, but as NZ is the only country doing this sort of thing, we’re not going there!
2) Professor Shaw, Toxocology at Canterbury is adamant 1080 kills native birds as equally as any other bird or animal. He would not support Sue Boyde’s views. It kills any animal, bird or insect that requires oxygen as part of its metabolic process. Even rare native frogs as Hunua (1994) and Coromandel 1080 operations have demonstrated.
3) New Zealand is Tb free as Minister Guy has admitted to questions in the house. OIE Tb free standard is 0.1% incidence in cattle at slaughter. NZ is probably has one of the world’s lowest incidences of BTb at 0.0019%. The whole bovine Tb thing is an $80 million dollar a year charade on you the taxpayer and farmers. Even by OIE standards, possum are Tb free.
4) Again, as Minister of MPI Nathan Guy has admitted to questions in the House, there is no verifiable link showing possum give Tb to cattle. Apparently it was not cost effective to do the necessary lab work. This can be verified by Sue JB in my successful appeal to the Advertising Standards Authority.
5) Nugent, Sweetapple and others have demonstrated rat populations can be treble pre – poison levels within a year or 2 of 1080 operations. One could ask whether DoC, by aerial poisoning, are “rat farming” to keep alive a pest crisis to justify its very profitable poisoning operations.

Can I ask a question? – Is Sue Boyde on DoC’s advocacy payroll?

Can I ask a question? Why do anti-1080 people accuse those who explode their arguments of being paid? It’s not hard to do, and doesn’t require an expert – just a conservation volunteer like me (I also run a trap line). Maybe paranoia goes with the other funny ideas.

It’s true that dogs can die by eating animals poisoned by 1080. Owners need to control their pets and not let them eat carrion – or karaka berries, slug bait, poisonous algae or any of the many things that can kill dogs. Bill speculates about fantails, but the observed facts are that most species of native birds lose few or no members ot a 1080 drop and they then enjoy great breeding success without the predators, for at least one and often two breeding seasons.

1080 has been proved by several experiments not to be an endocrine disruptor. It has also been proved not to be carcinogenic. When 1080 goes into water, the sodium ion is stripped off and fluoroacetate is released. This exact same molecule is present in a cup of tea, at a very low level (5 parts per billion) – only twice the level that has ever been found in water after a 1080 drop. Given that people have drunk tea for thousands of years without ill effects, obviously there is no problem with fluoroacetate at parts per billion.

Professor Shaw is a toxicologist, but has done no work on 1080 – CT Eason is the toxicological expert on 1080. Nor has Professor Shaw done any work on NZ birds, so he would have no basis to say anything beyond that it is possible for native birds to be killed by 1080 – if they eat enough of it. Field experience shows that they very rarely do. Whereas rats and possums hoover it up, and mustelids, cats etc eat the carcasses.

Concerning Bill’s denial of the existence of bovine TB, I’ve posted an article for Lloyd Hanson that has all the information he lacks.

Concerning rat numbers after 1080, what happens in the Project Kaka area in the Tararuas is that rats, stoats and possums are absent from the core of the treatment area for 24-30 months, while they reinvade slowly along the ridge-lines from uncontrolled areas. Once rats reach the core of the area, they may be in rather higher numbers than before 1080 was applied, probably because of the plentiful feed of an area that has had no predators for such a long period. As 1080 is applied every 36 months, the rats are not a problem for long.

Sad to see a news organisation post such an uninformed viewpoint, masquerading as fact. Next up I’d like to request they publish my views on why Pluto is causing testicular cancer in the Capybara. They don’t seem to require any proof, so this shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

May I say that it’s a shame this publication, in general full of excellent content, also harbours such misinformation about 1080. This article is full or errors. Let me refute them from the top:
1) 1080 poisons the land – 1080 is broken down by soil bacteria, in soil or water, within 1-2 weeks at the present temperatures. 1080 dilutes very rapidly in water, even before it is broken down. NIWA water tests – some 300 have been done – have found no fluoroacetate from 1080 in 96% of samples. In 4%, from small streams in the bush, fluoroacetate has been found at 1 or 2 parts per billion.
2) 1080 kills birds and insects – blackbirds are at risk from 1080, but naive and endemic bird species of our region lose few or no individuals. Without the rats, sotats and possums, they have one or two excellent breeding seasons when they make big population gains. Birds in the Project Kaka area of the Tararuas have noticeably increased in numbers since the first drop in 2010. Insects – a few species of insects e.g. harvestmen are attracted to 1080 baits. But even when they used 5 kg /hectare there were so few baits that the effect on invertebrate populations was indetectable.
3) Anti-1080 people have made a fuss about possum autopsies revealing a very low rate of TB infection. But they try to conceal that these autopsies are only done when an area is about to be declared free of infection. Possum TB is still very much present on the West Coast of the South Island and in other areas including the southern Rimutakas.
4) Landcare experiments on TB transmission in possums – these experiments were done in areas with known and active possum TB. In other words, where releasing a few possums with TB would do no harm – Muzzle Hill and the Landcare area in the Orongorongos. Landcare has published articles about this research. Bill Benfield claims that “possum are a solitary species”, which just underlines that he does not know much about them. Possums commonly den together and spread TB this way.
5) Tony Orman may not have looked at results of 1080 operations in the last 15 years. 1080 commonly reduces rat, stoat and possum numbers to less than 5% Residual Trap Catch. Looking at the reports on Project Kaka in the Tararuas, rats and the other predators reinvade the area slowly, allowing natives species to have two breeding seasons with low predator numbers.

This spring in my wanderings found three birds nests, one plovers who nest on the ground which I watched right through fledging and flying, one ducks nest which so far have hatched and one thrush nest with four eggs in native bush built between two manuka trees around half a metre off the ground, none of these nests were predated yet all three nests were in areas where possums lived.

In fact, in the case of the thrush, the area is going to be aerialy poisoned with 1080 because of high possum numbers and the threat of Tb which Nathan Guy admitted in Parliament that out of 9,000 odd possums autopsied had no Tb.

If possums are as DoC F&B say rapturous consumers of birds eggs why were none of the three nests not predated. Who will take responsibility for the extinction of kea who are on a knife edge and monitoring shows they eat 1080 baits.

There is a very vile smell about these massive poisoning programs and one day that smell will be found.
L. Hore

The pro-1080 apologists are getting desparate, ignoring science, observations in the field and fundamental ethics. The writing is on the wall for the entrenched poison-industrial- bureaucracy complex. Future generations will look back in disgust and horror at the aerial indiscriminate and unsustainable poisoning of our forest ecosystems. What is “normal” now will be seen as abberant , just as today we wouldn’t dream of drenching our children with DDT, yet once that was normal.

I would be somewhat inclined to believe you, pukeko, if your recent day of anti-1080 demonstrations had brought out 50,000 nationwide. But it didn’t. There were a TOTAL of about 500 people.

It is without conscience that Department of Conservation play loose with the truth such as Lo Sanson’s outburst against possums and predators such as rats. As you stated he knows well – or should do- that Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy answered a question in Parliament from NZ First’s Richard Prosser that of 9800 possums tested recently over a 12 month period, none had Tb. If he studied research from Landcare Research, (e.g Nugent and Sweetapple and Ruscoe) he would know rats that inevitably survive a 1080 holocaust, explode in numbers to surge up to 3 or 4 times original numbers. In short DOC stimulate greater rat numbers. (Duh!)
“Without conscience” refers to Sanson’s job as a public servant, funded by the public. He is honour bound to be up with the facts and to act in the public interest, not follow some agenda based on a false ideology.
Tony Orman