Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Australian Possums in Kiwi Blunderland

Predators like the he native falcon are very vulnerable to 1080 poison

Tourists are greeted by the “skull and crossbones” signs everywhere in New Zealand

Possums in Australia are protected in mainland states but in New Zealand just a few hours flight away and in total contrast, the possum is classed by authorities as a destructive pest, sentenced to death by extermination and hounded by mass poisoning efforts.

The sharp contradiction seems bizarre and the more you delve into the New Zealand attitude and policy, it is.

Possums were introduced from Australia to New Zealand in 1837 and subsequent liberations were made well into the 20th century with a view to establishing a lucrative fur trade.

Back in 1917 in New Zealand the Auckland Acclimatisation Society’s Annual Report in discussing possums, said “We shall be doing a great service to the country in stocking these large areas with this valuable and harmless animal.”

Fast forward almost a century to today and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation is adamant that possums are a pest. “Introduced to New Zealand in 1837 to establish a fur trade, the possum has become one of the greatest threats to our natural environment–“the damage to native forests can be seen all too clearly in many areas.”

The department is not alone in its hatred of possums. Possums allegedly spread bovine TB, a disease of cattle and farmed deer says the agency TB-Free NZ . The agency says “Although we target possums for TB control, wherever possible we work closely with DOC to ensure a ‘triple hit’ of the worst mammalian pests. Our efforts in this area have been commended by the country’s biggest conservation organisation, Forest and Bird.

Fired by this zeal and belief, the government is bombarding New Zealand’s countryside with aerial spreading of the controversial 1080 poison.

But are possums really a pest?

Over 50 years ago, I wrote an article for a national magazine titled “A query about the Possum – has it’s danger been exaggerated?” Interestingly the article drew no comment and I have not changed my views since, in fact probably only reinforced them.

First a quick background on the controversial 1080 poison.

It was originally developed as an insecticide in the mid-1920s but was found to kill anything and everything that came in contact with it. So it became, in use, an animal poison. But its original use still remains. It kills all insects, worms and other invertebrates which are the food of birds ranging from New Zealand’s native birds such as kiwi, bush robins, fantails and others.

Secondly 1080 is a slow killer. Unlike the instant killing by cyanide, 1080 takes up to about 48 hours to kill. So a mouse slowly dying and struggling will be picked off by predators such as falcons, hawks, New Zealand’s native owl called the morepork and others.

Thirdly 1080 is a “secondary” poison. i.e. the owl (morepork) that grabs the slowly dying poisoned mouse becomes poisoned with 1080 too. So too does a scavenger such as bush hen (weka) or mountain parrot ( kea) dining on a poisoned possum or deer carcass.

Fourthly 1080 based on limited research on mallard ducks in sub-lethal doses (not enough to kill) reduces or eliminates fertility in the male of a species. Thus sub-lethal doses to any birds will lower their breeding rate because males become infertile. It’s known as an endocrine disruptor – New Zealand refuses to do the science on it.

The unavoidable conclusion is that the 1080 poison kills not only possums but other life from insects to native birds to wild game such as deer while undermining the reproductive breeding cycle of most species.

Let’s look at the first two assumptions …

The spreading of poisons in New Zealand has been done for about 60 years on a trio of assumptions (a) there are 70 million possums spread evenly over New Zealand (b) possums are a “rapacious consumer of foliage” and (c) possums are the major vector (spreader) of Tb in farmed animals.

Let’s look at the first two assumptions.

Firstly the “70 million possums” are destroying forest. A few years ago I discovered details of a 1994 Department of Conservation workshop titled “Possums as Conservation Pests”.

A respected scientist Graham Nugent of New Zealand’s Landcare Research, spoke to the workshop and told it the 70 million possum figure was flawed describing it as a “back-of-a-cigarette-packet” calculation.

But even if the highly exaggerated 70 million figure was used, the marsupials would “apparently consume about 21,000 tonnes of vegetation per day” based on 300 g wet weight of foliage consumption per possum multiplied by 70 million.

Nugent said “This oft-quoted (70 million) figure is frequently used to depict possum as a rapacious consumer of all things green.”

But, added Graham Nugent the trees’ daily foliage production is 300,000 tonnes for forests alone. In short, the fictitious number of 70 million possums would gobble only about 1/15th or 7 percent of the new foliage each night.

Indeed it would be less because most possums live near margins of forests adjoining paddocks rather than in the forest and a significant part of their diet is grass or spring and summer growth on farm trees like willows, growing outside the forest.

Graham Nugent continued to say that possums do not threaten the total national forests by deforestation. For the bulk of New Zealand’s forest, the process is one of a change in individual species known as composition. There would be less of palatable vegetation species. So the change is merely a structural forest change.

Possum numbers in New Zealand’s rugged country are usually “controlled” by Nature’s rigorous environment especially climate. In inclement weather, natural mortality of possums may be as high as 40 per cent.

A study in 1958 in a then rarely visited part of New Zealand’s rugged Fiordland massif showed Nature without Man’s interference, balances wild animal numbers to the habitat’s carrying capacity. Scientist Thane Riney in his classic Fiordland Lake Monk research showed deer and possum populations left to Nature, peaked and then fell to a low stable level. Any wildlife population acts the same.

New Zealand’s possums probably reached their peak decades ago and have since been in a gradual decline until they achievede “joey” a year. Yet the Department of Conservation and TB Free NZ frequently whip up a fictional fear by claiming possum numbers are building up and more 1080 should be dropped. In any case, if numbers were to increase, harvesting of possums by commercial fur trappers at no risk to other wildlife is an obvious option.

Besides the possum is a resource with possum fur worth $110 a kilogram compared to $3 a kg for crossbred sheep wool. Possum fur is blended with merino wool and has a significant market in “added value” fashion clothing.

The meat of possums has also value for either pet food manufacture or as meat for human consumption. One New Zealand pet food manufacture had a thriving market in Japan for pet food utilising possum. Almost without warning his export market to Japan was cancellled overnight when the Japanese market saw on television a news item about New Zealand dropping 1080 on forests.

Even some government sources have been sceptical …

Evidence that possums are not damaging forests is evident in New Zealand’s early pioneering days. One early missionary explorer William Colenso’s travelled the Ruahine mountain ranges in the mid-19th century. Colenso’s diaries vividly told of forest damage from periodic storms and giant land slips long before any possums or deer were introduced.

Possums are accused of being a spreader of bovine Tb in farmed cattle and deer herds. But even some government sources have been sceptical. New Zealand’s Treasury in 2000 in a paper “Coughing Up for Tb control” raised serious doubts about the role of possums in bovine Tb infection. It suggested “that Tb was spread by transport of infected animals”, i.e. on stock trucks and not possums.

Also revealed was that the skin test used to test farm stock for TB has an error of 20 per cent when there is a much more accurate blood test with an error rate of only one per cent. Critics say the inferior test is used to prolong the existence of TB in herds so as to give reason for bureaucracies to continue.

Conservationist and Bill Benfield author of the provocative conservation book “The Third Wave” says New Zealand could get rid of bovine Tb immediately.

“Australia has possum — yet they got rid of bovine TB without poisoning wildlife” then dryly added, “but Australia does not have a bureaucracy like the Animal Health Board (now TB Free NZ) propping up its own existence.”

In October 2001, I listened to Dr Frank Griffin of Otago University addressing a deer farmers’ function. The scientist said that New Zealand’s pest management strategy focused narrowly on “killing possums and skin tests” and was not the solution to the Tb problem. Dr Frank Griffin saw the long term, logical solution for deer farming as selectively breeding genetically Tb resistant deer, but was refused funding while annually millions of dollars were spent by AHB and DOC spreading 1080.

Bill Benfield says the belief that there is a possum problem is an excuse to dump more 1080 poison. Therein the plot thickens.

Animal Control Products is a company that processes imported raw 1080 poison and incorporates it into bait form for aerial scattering. Who is behind the company? None other than the New Zealand government.

Economically crazy; environmentally crazy …

It is a “state owned enterprise” charged with making maximum profits by selling 1080 poison to the government agencies to spread.

Economically crazy? Yes. But then dropping 1080 is environmentally crazy.

In amongst the bizarre illogic are strident, vocal groups obsessed with “anti-exotic animal phobia” a term an American professor of zoology in 1958 used to describe New Zealand’s attitudes to wild animals. Among the groups are the long standing Forest and Bird Society with very recently formed groups such as Predator Free NZ. “Predator-Free New Zealand is a grass-roots movement aiming for the large-scale suppression or eradication of rats and mice (rodents), stoats and ferrets (mustelids), and possums across the New Zealand mainland” says google blurb.

As unscientific as it is, PFNZ even has the backing of a number of scientists from Landcare Research such as Andrea Byrom. Yet Graham Nugent earlier quoted, saying possums are not a conservation pest, is from Landcare Research. Puzzling? Yes. But then the whole fiasco is in its contradictions, cross currents and the catastrophe of mass poisoning of New Zealand’s natural ecosystem.

Adding another piece to the jigsaw puzzle is that Fish and Game NZ, charged with managing the fishing and shooting public’s waterfowl and upland game resources and trout fisheries, is incongruously a member of PFNZ.

Yet 1080 poison is known to kill game birds such as chukor and quail and probably pheasants. And it may effect trout although no one knows. Research is lacking. Certainly filming after a 1080 drop by two brothers Clyde and Steve Graf showed eels, crayfish and smelt feeding on poisoned baits and toxic carcasses. Eels that were analysed after 1080 drops showed 11 times permissible levels of the toxin, yet their flesh still forms the basis of an export food industry.

Frequently critics ask about the credibility of the country’s much vaunted, “100% pure” that is the branding for selling exports and enticing tourists. Ironically tourists frequently encounter warning signs depicting a skull and crossbones and warning of the dangers of 1080 poison.

Meanwhile New Zealand blunders on committing environmental destruction and now even selling its “poisonous expertise” to other countries who are showing symptoms of exotica- phobia and its accompanying hatred based on imagined invasive and predator species.

Tony Orman, a New Zealand conservationist and outdoor sportsman is the author of over 20 books mainly on outdoors.

• Morton Bartlett, in Comments: Nailed it in one, this stuff is slowly killing this country, species by species

• John Hayward, in Comments: I have yet to see a Tasmanian official admit 1080 causes residual tissue damage at sub-lethal dosages, nor is there any acknowledgement that baits scattered on the ground might be taken by birds. What passes for tough-minded pragmatism in Tas looks a lot like the condition known elsewhere as stupidity.

• Mary Molloy, in Comments: I am a farmer who farmed for over 40 years without TB but with an abundance of possums some years before the massive poisoning from squads of helicopter, firstly from fixed wing planes but now helicopters. We had a vibrant birdlife and over abundance of possums and no TB. Now we find possums very rarely, poor bird numbers except the opportunist sparrows, magpies, starlings etc. On our second farm we had a case of Tb which is now proven to have been bought in, a risk we knew we took. We however checked every group of new cattle ourselves, with local vets and with AHB which is now TB Free – we still got one with TB as our systems in NZ are not open enough nor good enough at identifying risk areas, its a bloody big secret and we are noted proactive people. Tb is a farmer problem, it is not a bush problem, possum problem, goats problem or anything else problem …

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  1. Brian Swale

    June 2, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    The use of 1080 in New Zealand has three main reasons:
    1. Protection and restoration of native forest and other vegetation types which have been and are being severely damaged by browsing animals, mainly possums, and
    2. The protection and restoration of native bird populations (mainly) which are being severely impacted by introduced predators – possums, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs and wild cats.

    The damage to our vegetation has been well recognised since at least 1956 and I have photographic evidence of that.
    However it wasn’t until maybe the 1960’s that the useful potential of 1080 plus the more ready availability of helicopters and accurate distribution systems became available that the use of 1080 to achieve goals 1 and 2 was possibly achievable. More recently, in the years 2016-18, the processes have been refined to a more precise level.

    Protection and restoration of native forest and other vegetation types.
    Many people don’t realise the extent of damaged vegetation throughout New Zealand and the range of vegetation types.

    In Northland, from Russell State Forest and north and south of it, are forests where totara, tanekaha, northern rata, fuchsia and many other arboreal species are being wiped out by very dense possum populations.
    Maori have recently completed a reconnaissance of their 125,000 ha forest in the Raukumara ranges and found terrible destruction of the forest structure including that MANY of the huge old totara tress have died and fallen due to long and severe defoliation by possums. They have neglected protection of their own estate.
    Forests in the Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Urewera, Whirinaki, Kaimanawa, Akatarawa, Tararua, and Rimutaka ranges of the North Island, similarly.
    In the South Island all down the West Coast from NW Nelson to Fiordland a range of vegetation types have been very heavily damaged by possums,and southern rata & fuchsia possibly the worst hit. Other vegetation types in Otago, for example the Garvie and Eyre mountains have been impacted.

    The significance of these losses is not just for the plants themselves, but also that they are the dwelling places for endangered birds etc.

    The protection and restoration of native bird populations etc.

    In forests the main species needing protection include kokako, kaka, stitchbird, saddleback, various parakeets, mouhua, whitehead and pigeon. Morepork.
    Outside forests kea, and rock wren.
    On some special beaches such as at Mangawhai, terns.
    On the braided rivers of the South Island – the Waiau, Hurunui, Waipara, Ashley, Waimakariri, Rakaia, Rangitata, Waitaki,and Ahuriri are such species as kaki, wrybill, banded dotterell and some gulls and terns.

    The predators are possums, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs and wild cats.

    Possums are targeted also because they spread TB (tuberculosis bacterium) among the nation’s dairy herds. TB has a negative effect on the acceptability of the milk from those cows.

    Did you know a 1080 bait contains only 0.15% of the active ingredient!

  2. Bud JonesQSM

    June 12, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    I offered up our 214 ha. farm with 5 large lakes, 21 small ponds and 30,000 trees planted by me for a QE2 Open Space Covenant protection in perpetuity, but it was rejected initially because it had too many exotic trees and birds ”not endemic to the district”. When I pointed out the many thriving endemic dabchick which are on the cusp of extinction, there was suddenly a flurry of interest to approve the application. It is Time we put the hand–book of cleansing and clock-turning written by Hermann Goering for Auschwitz back a dusty shelf with Bat Man and Spider Woman The days of Goering’s infamous utterance” I alone will determine who is a Jew” is sadly still with us,as some official behind a desk determines alone what is a “pest!!”

  3. John Wantling

    May 27, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    We assume that TB is infectious but this is not true. My research has led me to put this ‘TB Not Infectious’ article together. It is now 12 months old and my next document will be more in-depth. TB is an expression of the immune system in an attempt to find homeostasis. The cause is in the environment, either a poison or a contamination issue. In the UK, there was a dramatic upsurge in TB reactor cows 1986, and this was probably caused by the Chernobyl disaster. The fall-out spreading throughout Europe, the cows eating the poisoned grass, and then their immune systems kick in and then TB is the result. It is the cause of TB that is the main issue, not TB in itself. To find the cause, we need a toxicologist, not a mass slaughter/mass cull program. John Wantling, Rochdale, UK
    Badger Cull – TB not Infectious

  4. Mary Molloy

    May 26, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Please explain how “all the work done in the years previous”” to what? “has paid dividends” ditto what dividends Simon. I am not sure what you are referring to

  5. Simon Warriner

    May 26, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Michelle, have you considered that all the work done in the years previous, back to 92 and earlier,has paid dividends, which you are now pointing out?

    If you changed the words “do not” for “no longer” you might be on more solid ground.

    And no, I don’t like 1080 either.

  6. Mary Molloy

    May 26, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    I would ask Simon Warriner if he could email with the particulars of the closed herd farm – we could have a chat over how likely various scenarios might be re infection in a “closed” herd. I am mindful of several claims to this effect and it is often “closed” herd with bought in bulls at the very least.
    Please consider discussing it with me for both our benefits, I can learn and I might help explain just what has happened for you. The Tb test that we have or even modifications of that, does not pick up active aggressive Tb very often at all and will not identify a carrier animal however more specifics with more detail.

    With regard to Robert’s targeted use of 1080, nice line absolutely nothing like reality of squads of helicopters with buckets hanging underneath and sowing poison baits. These are available to everything and will kill anything that eats a lethal dose including our treasured native and endemic species, is pre-fed first to ensure good take up and sub lethal doses are able to alter organ sizes, confuse tubles in testes and so on. 1080 has been used for almost my whole life and no miracle has occurred except the bush is very very quiet., and Tb farms remain pretty much in the same areas as always.

  7. Mary Molloy

    May 26, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Unless you purchase Tb in you are extremely unlikely to catch Tb from your neighbours, therefore buying in is the main issue, endemic herds containing Tb which cannot be tested for is the problem there. Buying us such herds and enforcing conditions on re-stocking, teaching good husbandry or at least insisting on having less stock fed better will go a long way to getting rid of Tb – there is no particular incentive to get rid of TB and the core infected farms just farm on with it, making no changes whatsover, just crying solve it for me Mr Poisoner, it’s not my fault. Those who buy it in should be encouraged too, to take pressure off stock, get rid of susceptible animals and so on. Simple remove the poverty of poor farming

  8. Michelle Terry

    May 26, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    There is even more evidence that we do not have a possum vector TB problem in the publicly declared records of dairy herds infected with bovine TB. These demonstrate for us that between 2009—2014, 41 infections by herd movements, 3 by feral ferrets, and nil by possums! Recent data show that possums have not been the source of infection since 2009. In all probability the main vector of infection is through stock movements.

  9. Michelle Terry

    May 26, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    So NZ thinks it has a possum bovine TB problem and government agencies tell us that possums are a vector and we must throw money and poison at the problem? They tell us that these possums “give cattle TB?” Really?

    But when asked the question, it appears that TBFree New Zealand (previously the Animal Health Board) have been carrying out necroscopy surveillance of possums and other wildlife since 2007.

    In the 2007/2008 year 4871 possums were surveyed with no Tb infections found.

    2008/2009 13,874 surveyed with 9 found
    2009/2010 23,339 surveyed with 6 found
    2010/2011 17576 surveyed with 1 found

    ….and in the 2014/2015 year 9,838 possums were surveyed with no infected possums found.

    What possum problem? Perhaps what we do have is an on-farm management problem, a transporting problem, and a lucrative (for some) poison problem instead. What many actually do see is a bureaucracy addicted to a substance that they are conditioned to “see as a silver bullet”, and a system that continues to abuse it.

  10. EM Cooper

    May 26, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Great Article! Well done Tony.

    However the comments on this page from a Mr Ueberfledt are totally bizarre.

    “1080 is used in a targeted manner”
    1080 kills more than the target animals, it is indiscriminate, it will kill anything – target animal or not, that consumes enough. Spray drift outside the ‘targeted’ area is a huge concern, especially to people trying to live on the edge of a drop zone, this cannot be controlled. There is often very little or even NO monitoring (TBFree!) of how many targets there actually are before a drop, to see if the drop is needed, so you can never tell if actually worked. How do you call that targeted?

    “the comment that it kills everything is wrong”
    Any bird, insect or animal that consumes enough of this poison will die in a horrific slow undeserved way. It does kill everything that consumes enough of it, and as it can’t be ‘targeted’ due to its aerial broadcast, I cant see why this comment was made?

    And as for trying to draw an analogy of 1080 poison, one of the most deadly toxins in the world with oxygen !! I am having trouble finding an LD50 for oxygen. Please enlighten us.

    I can only conclude that the posting of such nonsensical statements, shows that the indiscriminate use of such a deadly poison cannot be logically defended.

  11. Mary Molloy

    May 26, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    I am a farmer who farmed for over 40 years without TB but with an abundance of possums some years before the massive poisoning from squads of helicopter, firstly from fixed wing planes but now helicopters. We had a vibrant birdlife and over abundance of possums and no TB. Now we find possums very rarely, poor bird numbers except the opportunist sparrows, magpies, starlings etc. On our second farm we had a case of Tb which is now proven to have been bought in, a risk we knew we took. We however checked every group of new cattle ourselves, with local vets and with AHB which is now TB Free – we still got one with TB as our systems in NZ are not open enough nor good enough at identifying risk areas, its a bloody big secret and we are noted proactive people.
    Tb is a farmer problem, it is not a bush problem, possum problem, goats problem or anything else problem. Where it stays in particular areas it is fair to say stock are under stress as Tb remains even in livestock a disease of poverty, stress and close confines. The answer for farmer is in those few words. Tb has become confused with possums because some purists want to take all introduced creatures out of NZ, take us back to how it was in 1840 so be carefu lof the reasons, 1080 has nothing to do with curing Tb or stopping infections on farms, farmers have the control and must do their best. Our current TB test can not give farmers any security, if it is to be it is up to me should be the farming motto – not help please from the poisoners and liars of NZ’s indiscriminant killing machine

  12. Michelle Terry

    May 25, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    We need to lose our “allergic reaction” to predation. Predators are vital to a functioning ecosystem. They are not criminals or murderers!

    We need to get over this NZ-ingrained nonsense over our so-called defenseless native flora and fauna. We are handicapping its progress with our interference and poisoning regime. It is not defenseless and we are both Nanny and Executioner.

    Evolution takes a long time, but science has found it experiences “jumps”. Let’s not “jump” backwards and cause it to falter. We cannot actually travel back to how it was with all the species that are now absent. Acceptance is so important. And letting it be is even more so.

  13. Tom Look

    May 25, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    The label on the bags of 1080 pellets says it all.
    In big red lettering at the top.
    How much evidence do people need before they realise 1080 is a deadly poison and that it is ecotoxic?
    it goes on:
    Acutely toxic. May be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Repeated oral exposure may cause reproduc- tive or developmental damage. When handling open containers or baits, wear protective equipment as shown in precautions box below.
    Very toxic to terrestrial vertebrates. Take measures to reduce the risk of non-target animals being exposed to the toxin ei- ther through eating baits or by scavenging the carcasses of poisoned animals.
    Harmful to aquatic organisms. Manage bait application rates carefully and comply with any restrictions imposed on placing baits over or near waterways. Avoid pollution of any water supply with pellets or used container.
    Storage: Store in original container, tightly closed, under lock and key and away from feed or foodstuffs. Keep out of reach of children. This product must always be under the control of an approved handler who holds a current test certificate endorsed for Class 6 and Class 9 substances. Do not store in direct or diffused sunlight. Avoid cyclic heating and cooling.
    Handling: When handling open containers or laying baits, wear overalls worn outside rubber boots, and impervious rubber or PVC gloves. When loading aircraft or working in windy conditions, wear goggles and a dust mask as protection against dust entering the eyes or mouth. Do not eat, drink or smoke when using the product or handling open containers. Wash protective clothing and equipment daily after work. Remove protective clothing and wash hands and exposed skin thoroughly before meals and after any contact. Thoroughly wash implements, spreading equipment, aircraft and bait stations before removing them from the operational area.

  14. Michelle Terry

    May 25, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Is the crucial role of predators relevant to NZ? There is for every island an equilibrium. Species themselves may change as some become extinct and new ones arrive. Islands represent simplified and exaggerated versions of exactly those evolutionary processes that occur on mainlands. We are currently in ecosystem decay caused by non-equilibrium insular biogeography in our habitats. We have no immigration and only extinctions.

    There is no place for using a universal toxin such as sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) within our native forest ecosystems. With its indiscriminate killing power, this poison applied via aerial top dressing has not helped our biodiversity reach any kind of equilibrium. It is only blitzkrieg, a diluting down of every species, followed by a shot in the arm to fast breeders such as rodents.

    The public are being told that predators are a “bad thing” and have no place in NZ ecosystems. Yet we know that species do migrate around Earth either via humans or of their own volition. So who sets themselves up as judge, jury and executioner? And what are their conflicts of interest? What I emphatically disagree with is the role of government and industry in the mass poisoning of our precious ecosystems using the argument of “making NZ Predator-Free”. That will never happen – it is a complete nonsense and an excuse for a major money-go-round and a new poison factory. People forget that we have been fighting a losing battle for over half a century with 1080 as the weapon of choice.

    There is no telling the damage already caused through all these decades of poisoning. Insects are part of the food chain, snails, worms, grubs, frogs, plants, etc. 1080 poison really does have the ability to kill everything. It is a metabolic toxin. Sub-lethally this poison is harmful to mitochondrial DNA, to cell respiration, and accumulates in heart, brain and other organs. It is a cause of male infertility, miscarriage and can damage the unborn foetus. We don’t know its effects on native species because there has been no published study. It is the same for human health in relation to widespread landscape application of 1080 – no epidemiological study and no control.

    With its well documented ability to linger in soil and water and be taken up by the plants, data are woefully insufficient for the impact of this toxin in NZ considering our use of this toxin. We do need to stop, let things settle down and reinstate the bounty system in areas where possums naturally thrive (dollar incentive). Trapping has far less impact on the native species. Money saved through not using 1080 will go into smarter trapping and much needed research. With New Zealand 1080-free, it will be Clean and Green For Real. Export venison and possum products will be unhindered by this controversial poison. There will be more opportunity for export honey too without the 1080 taint.

    Possums are not the predators they’ve been painted to be by the propagandists. However, bonafide predators (such as mustelids and cats) may have a vital part to play in the ecosystem that we now have. A thousand years ago, human occupation began the process of removing the naturally occurring predators, the birds of prey and the main defoliator, the browsing and grazing species of moa that were widespread. It is not unusual in the scheme of things for new arrivals to find themselves a niche. Our exotic-phobias do us a disservice. New Zealand needs to reach equilibrium; to start working with what is here without this unsustainable, inhumane and controversial interference. This 1080 ecocide.

  15. john hayward

    May 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I have yet to see a Tasmanian official admit 1080 causes residual tissue damage at sub-lethal dosages, nor is there any acknowledgement that baits scattered on the ground might be taken by birds.

    What passes for tough-minded pragmatism in Tas looks a lot like the condition known elsewhere as stupidity.

    John Hayward

  16. Simon Warriner

    May 25, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Went for a walk yesterday, through the 40% of my property in native bush. Absolutely zero understory at all. Even the gullies that had vegetation in them 5 years ago are bare dirt now. Actually there was more in the adjacent plantation. It was eerily similar to what I saw in NZ back in NZ in 92 when I spent some months on the family farm. I was shooting 200 possums a night, 60 out of a single tree in the middle of a 10 acre paddock adjacent to light scrub on night, while I was there.(no, not every night) The native bush was devoid of understory there as well. It was well established knowledge that removing the possums resulted in a re-established understory. I wonder if that would happen with a drastically reduced wallaby population, say at the levels of 50 years ago.

    It is indicative of an ecosystem out of balance.

    As for the livestock movement TB hypothesis. That farm in NZ had a closed herd and nil TB tests for 3 years prior to 92, yet had TB reactors in the 92 test results. They did not come from introduced livestock and they did not come from visitors during the 91-92 period. Possums are known to carry bovine TB. There were no shortage of them and they cover many k’s a night if they are looking for territory to establish in.

    I don’t like 1080 either, have lost a much loved family pet to it, and am deeply uneasy about the commercial arrangements as described, but I do see a problem that needs a solution. Those arguing against 1080 would be more convincing if they proposed a solution that was workable for all parties, not just one that suited their particular ideology.

  17. Michelle Terry

    May 24, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Just by way of comparison Tasmania, the only Australian state that targets brush-tail possum with 1080 baiting, uses carrot baits containing 0.014% Compound 1080 – that’s 0.14gm in each kilogram of bait. The New Zealand state owned enterprise Animal Control Products now produces (0.15%) cereal baits (containing 1.5 gm per kilogram of bait) so that’s nearly 11 times more concentrated. At current bait lacing and application NZ is using around 2 tonnes of pure 1080. That is a hell of lot of killing power.

    TBFree in their aerial-1080 programme in the South Island of NZ are now proposing drops of 5 kilos per HA. Poison saturation – I would call that “spraying it everywhere”. This ecosystem poison is supposed to secondarily kill mustelids. It is a universal toxin. It is an insecticide. It is taken up by plants. It is highly toxic to bees. It is applied to water indiscriminately. We are ignoring scientific evidence in the desire to kill and feed into the poison industry.

    This is over-kill!

    I believe that in the early decades (1953-1970) of usage of 1080 in Tasmania the rate was comparable to what the NZ rate is now – the kills of native birds were the subject of public outrage and after two decades the Tasmanian Primary Industry Dept decided to use a concentration about 1/10th the strength. So the volumes of pure 1080 used annually decreased dramatically, but the volumes of poison used increased as the farmers’ demands to kill more and more possums and wallabies occurred.

    1080 has no place in Nature

  18. Edmund

    May 24, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    What a load of nonsense!

    For example: “Evidence that possums are not damaging forests is evident in New Zealand’s early pioneering days. One early missionary explorer William Colenso’s travelled the Ruahine mountain ranges in the mid-19th century. Colenso’s diaries vividly told of forest damage from periodic storms and giant land slips long before any possums or deer were introduced.”

    Yes, NZ had, and has, storms and landslips. How that provides evidence “that possums are not damaging forests” is anyone’s guess!

  19. Rob Ueberfledt

    May 24, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    1080 is used in a targeted manner, we don’t spray it everywhere, hence the comment that it kills everything is wrong. The poison is in the dose. Oxygen is in the air we breath and it is very toxic when consumed in excess. I have seen the damage done by possum in NZ and it is real. 1080 is used to control a host of pests that we have in NZ not just possum.

  20. Morton Bartlett

    May 24, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Pete Godfrey: It was originally developed as an insecticide but found to affect all animals. Dept of Conservation have said in the past it doesnt kill insects Yeah right.
    Any animal killed by it remains a resevoir of poison and anything that eats it will die as well

  21. Richard Dods

    May 24, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    There is plenty of evidence of 1080 poison being an indiscriminate, inhumane, eco-toxic poison. On YouTube, check out TheGrafBoys videos and documentaries: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGrafBoys/videos

  22. Willie Wilson

    May 24, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Thank goodness that some one has the intestinal fortitude to write something of importance about New Zealand’s problem with 1080 mismanagement.How dare our own government poison its citizens and think this allowable. Well done Mr.Tony Orman.

  23. Morton Bartlett

    May 24, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Nailed it in one, this stuff is slowly killing this country, species by species

  24. Pete Godfrey

    May 24, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    These New Zealanders need to talk to DPIPWE in Tasmania. Because here we have been told for years that 1080 only affects the target species.
    It definitely doesn’t affect birds, fish, or any other animal other than higher order mammals.
    So someone somewhere has been telling major porkies, and I am beginning to suspect it is not the New Zealanders.

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