(With 1080 drops planned in the hills behind Waikanae in September (See the article on August 3), we publish concerns and views about the Coromandel scene. We will approach the Waikanae Community Board for their reactions to this and the plans for the Waikanae hills.)
A plea for help to SPCA
We citizens, on the Coromandel, are struggling to assist the Department of Conservation (DOC), to choose trapping over poison 1080. Moehau is fully tracked, there is insufficient rationale for the use of aerial 1080 but the mindset seems in paralysis.
I have heard nothing so would appreciate some action. It appears DOC will not listen to local communities however if there is a small chance that your organisation could be seen to be supporting rural conservationists in their pursuit of humane wild animal control this could be helpful.
Reihana Robinson, spokesperson Upper Coromandel Landcare Association
The SPCA response: 1080 horrible and indiscriminate
1080 poisoning is a horrible way to die and it is indiscriminate in what it kills. The Department of Conservation (DOC) is dropping more 1080 poison this year than ever before across huge swathes of our forests, despite the inevitable damage it will do to a wide range of ‘non-target’ animals and birds. We are saying there has to be a better way.
These 1080 drops are not surgical strikes that only knock out so-called ‘target’ species. On the contrary, 1080 poison is a weapon of mass destruction that leads to the agonising deaths of many ‘non-target’ species, including deer, pigs, and, yes, native birds. DOC is dropping many tonnes of 1080 poison bait across New Zealand’s forests and streams, potentially killing every living thing within the drop zones. This is unacceptable and there is much evidence to suggest that it is not the answer to the problem: the target species, particularly rats, always seem to bounce back, which necessitates more 1080 poison drops.
It is simply not a sustainable way to manage wildlife in New Zealand. Are we going to keep dropping 1080 poison all over New Zealand forever? Is that the future we want?
Moreover we appear to have set up a double standard regarding the welfare of pest species, such as rats, stoats, and possums. The law permits the elimination of these and other inconvenient species and turns a blind eye to how inhumanely they are killed. We as a country have decided there are two kinds of animals: those we care about and those we don’t. If I fed 1080 poison to my dog, the SPCA would prosecute me with vigour. But if I fed the same poison to a possum there would be no repercussions at all.
Ric Odom, CEO of the Royal New Zealand SPCA
An environmentalist’s view: creating a pest crisis
DoC justifies its poisoning programme by creating a “pest crisis” that has to be controlled or “eradicated” (Predator Free NZ). It’s a shabby form of near hysterical marketing which demonises harmless creatures such as possum as “predators” and destroyers of forests. By supporting eradication, whether by trapping or cyanide, you are buying into DoC’s story line and ultimately helping justify poisoning – why, you even advocate it yourself with cyanide!
If you want to stop 1080, you’ve got to accept possum as part of our 21st Century valued bush fauna.
As for rats, they’re ubiquitous. Their numbers in the wild are governed by food availability and in time, they will just settle down into a stable limit cycle.
Wairarapa environmentalist, Bill Benfield