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

David Obendorf

1080 and the contamination of water

*Pic: Clyde Graf

Water contamination is of concern the world over currently; Tasmania has had its concerns as well with long lists of boil water alerts recently.

But what is the outcome of an industry deliberately dropping poison baits in and around water catchment areas? This was raised in Tasmania when the Pet dam catchment area, Burnie’s main water supply was baited with 1080 for foxes in March 2013.

When NZ’s Department of Conservation (DOC) made their first drop of 1080 in our area of the Coromandel Peninsula, it was understood that poisoned baits would land in the streams and leach their poison into the water straight away. A dangerous volume of poison quickly leaches out of those baits and into stream water.

This rush of poison is so toxic that, after massive dilution, 1080 can still be detected in water taken some distance downstream from the poisoned area.

Local residents, who drank from the stream, were protected from drinking poisoned water by the Health Board and DOC staff. Before the poison drop the residents’ water up-take was turned off and DOC brought in a tank and supplied safe drinking water until the rush of poison had passed and the stream water was once again “clear”.

The Health Department took water samples a day or two after the expected poison rush to make sure that the water was actually clear of 1080 before they opened up the water intakes again.

Although only a handful of all the baits dropped would actually land in the water, the contamination they caused was considered serious enough to take these elaborate safety precautions.

Where this rush of poison goes to, where it ends up has not yet been explained. The people, especially those who live in the country where the effects are most visible, are the first to find out.

DOC research (Suren 2004-06) explains that most of the streams under a 1080 will receive poison baits. ALL Suren’s water samples taken within four hours of baits landing in the water showed positive for 1080. Suren was looking for 1080 and found it. The Health Board samples, taken a day or two later, were looking for clear water and found it.

Suren found 1080 in all the aquatic life he tested. Native fish, crayfish and eels, were all found to have 1080 in them; in his National Geographic article ( May – June 2009, https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/1080 ) Dave Hansford concludes: “tests on the toxin’s impact on the freshwater invertebrates and fish found no measurable effect”.

As you can see from Suren’s report there is contamination of waterways. It occurs well before the clear water samples are taken. All Health Board tests were expected to be clear and Hansford tells us that 3% of them are poisoned.

In other words, in 3% of all poisonings, the 1080 poison is still lingering in the waters two or three days later. This figure of 3% is therefore of great concern.

Hansford uses the figure of 3%, as if the samples were seeking 1080. They were not. Hansford does not tell us that those samples should have all been clear. The context radically changes the meaning of the figure, radically alters the conclusions, which can be drawn from the same figure.

If one looks at the bare scientific reports and draws one’s own conclusions from the data presented it becomes harder and harder to justify NZ Government’s claims that 1080 is not contaminating our waters.

What is of huge concern is the eventual path which all of the government’s animal poisons must follow. The poison we have seen going down the streams on the day of the Drop is but a tiny portion of the amount dropped.

Where is it all going to?

Where does it end up?

1080 has been found in practically every species of animal, insect, bird, fish, human and plant. We are told it accumulates in the roots of plants. From here 1080 can poison the entire plant.

Government’s only response has been a barrage of propaganda from people like Hansford telling the public there’s nothing to worry about.

Sure, a lot of non-target species are always poisoned, it’s unavoidable, they say, but there’s no need to worry ‘cos not all of them die . . . and here the questions really begin.

What happens to those who have received a non-fatal dose of 1080? Humans who have been caught in the dust of a poison drop or who have eaten poisoned game will already be feeling the medium-term effects. What will be the long-term effects of this poisoning on our wild life?

Public outcry has prevented this kind of pollution in every other country except New Zealand where the public has, so far, been effectively silenced, and the government’s experiment continues apace.

In New Zealand we are all part and parcel of the same experiment. We are not all so proud to be participants.

It will be years, decades, if government has its way, of further poisoning before the long-term effects of all the sub-lethal doses will be noticed and acknowledged.

Writings like Hansford’s highlight NZ government’s determination not to acknowledge what their scientists are telling them.

Not yet anyway …

John Veysey lives on the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island, New Zealand. Since first observing government-funded animal poisoning operations in his area John has spent the past 25 years looking to find any tangible benefits to the environment, long or short term, from this method of wild animal control. After decades studying the “science” behind NZ’s animal poisoning policy John has uncovered numerous benefits but none of them, he says, have been for the environment.

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• Penelope Marshall in Comments: Clyde Graf: Thanks, John. Just a correction – most of the Coromandel folk were drawing water the day of the drop, and without knowing the poison was dropped into their streams. Had a meeting about this with the Waikato DHB reps, on Thursday. Cheers

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  1. Penelope Marshall

    August 29, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    Clyde Graf: Thanks, John. Just a correction – most of the Coromandel folk were drawing water the day of the drop, and without knowing the poison was dropped into their streams. Had a meeting about this with the Waikato DHB reps, on Thursday. Cheers

  2. Marlene Skeet

    August 26, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you and you are right with everything you say.

    Please excuse my error in my post meaning-included in the experiment by no notification.

  3. Michelle

    August 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    When will we finally receive the acknowledgement from the Department of Conservation that their programme isn’t working? Landcare Research have said that they don’t know what the long term effects of sub-lethal doses will be (on animals or humans). Our health officials acknowledge many data gaps and the lack of required research to assure the public that their health is safeguarded. Those three points on their own should close this down.

    But what’s it all about? What really is the end game for conservation in New Zealand? We are witnessing something that is unsustainable at best and catastrophic for New Zealand at worst.

    Trapping is effective and used to ‘back-up’ aerial-1080. In real terms it is now shown to compete with the allegedly ‘cheap’ aerial-1080 following some revealing Official Information Act costs from the Department of Conservation. There are many who are willing but it is competition for the dollar-return per HA with the government poisoning agencies.

    Much is made of the accusation leveled at trappers and hunters that utilizing possums instead of wasting them to poison will mean that they are ‘never got rid of’, and it is basing an industry on a pest species. So, what is the government’s Animal Control Products enterprise and the other pest control companies within New Zealand doing if not basing an industry on a pest species? From poison companies through to TBFree (a ‘charitable trust’), helicopter companies and scientists – we cleaerly have an industry at work in NZ and it exports both its products and know-how too.

    Hunters are accused of bias in their outspoken dismay over the after-effects of an aerial-1080 drop. Hunting may be their recreational sport, it may even be an income, or way of supplementing their family’s diet. What is the excuse for the individuals or agencies who base their livelihood on poisoning the wildlife? Is money an acceptable or admirable bias?

    Then there is the tourism excuse for poisoning wildlife. John Key has made it known that he believes visitors will spend more time here if there is more native wildlife to experience. Yet many tourists are left wondering about the poison signs everywhere. They often end up googling 1080 poison and going home with stories about the poison at the heart of the faery tale that was sold to them. One of a Clean, Green New Zealand. Tripadvisor shut down a thread involving backpackers from Europe and Amercia and their concerns about the water supplying the huts they visited. We can keep tring to jam the lid down tightly but there is a growing awareness in the rest of the world that all is not as 100% Pure as Brand New Zealand would suggest.

    Will word keep on spreading of the tonnes of poison dropped into the environment each year, of the dying rivers, the inhumanity, the killing for conservation? Most likely. It has a snowball effect and awareness is growing. What’s more, after approximately 60 years of concerted efforts on the part of the government to poison the ecosystems into submission there are no data to support any credible gain in native numbers.

    If the reports are correct and we are in for another 40 years of aerial-1080 then New Zealand will experience over a Century of broad landscape aerial-1080 poisoning. Where are the safeguards that need to exist to protect public health? This is something Dr Peter Scanlon in fact pointed out before his untimely death.

    Respect our requests. Respect the growing numbers of people who are worried and rightfully so that, at the behest of a privileged few, the public, and the lives of domestic and wild animals are being wasted (inhumanely) at the alter of an embedded practice of poisoning. It is mass killing and waste this remote ‘pest’ control based on biological xenophobia – an idea of the ancestral right of abode which is applied to the animal kingdom only. It is an ideal of incredible hypocrisy.

  4. Marlene Skeet

    August 26, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Human participation is where New Zealanders have been excluded in this experimentation to the extent of non notification processes.
    The killing of an industry began for me immediately as a Tourism operator who works on river and stream water ways.

    From out of no where this pest control company appeared like Roman messengers bringing the Kings ruling. You people are to receive an official bombing of 1080 and you will not stop this experiment from happening. There were no assurances provided to me for health and Safety of humans or the consumption of water from the from the first deliverance of information.

    Caught of guard I suffered horrendous panic to the point of a severe injury and then a slow inhumane suffering of the impacts that would befall me, my tourism industry, my cultural, my health and safety planning for all whom I guide on water ways, liability and compensation to whom do I direct this instant befalling of everything represent and is now lost.

    The food of a human business and health is connected to water consumption safety and I have been poisoned by the information even before it has been dispersed.

    Some one help me, anyone help me to regain my strength, my reputation, my losses.

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