To The NZ Government (Speaker of the house and Parties within parliament);
Concerning the validity of the report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment titled:
“Evaluating the Use of 1080”, by Dr Jan Wright.
This PCE report should be declared null and void and invalid.
From: The New Zealand Wildlands Biodiversity Management Society Incorporated and Dr Jo Pollard BSc (Hons), PhD (Zoology)
(20th September 2011- Originally to Ombudsmen) 20th October 2011.
The NZ Wildlands Biodiversity Management Society Incorporated.
C/o ESPC, PO Box 1700 Taupo, NZ.
To: The Speaker of The House;
The NZ Government and House of Representatives of New Zealand.
cc” The Governor General of New Zealand.
C/O Parliament Buildings
20th October 2011
Dear Sirs and Mesdames,
We wish to acknowledge the status and positions held by you the addressees and to state that we intend no personal disrespect.
We have long standing concerns about the effects of mass poison distribution over the terrain of our country, New Zealand. We have communicated in the past with Ministers of Conservation, Agriculture, Health, Environment and Fisheries on these and related matters. We have also communicated with the Ombudsmen and PCE over time and about related matters. We are disgusted with the undemocratic and sometimes secretive and misleading processes behind which the Animal Health Board conducts its business and its continuing immunity from public scrutiny and accountability, its non compliance with the OIA as a Charitable Society all the while being totally funded directly and indirectly by the public.
The recent report to Parliament undertaken by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright contains serious misleading information. We asked the PCE a number of questions under the powers of the OIA and subsequently laid a complaint and request to investigate, with the Office of the Ombudsmen. The Ombudsmen have confirmed to us that under the Ombudsman’s Act they have no powers to investigate the PCE.
In our democracy there can be no place for a government funded agency such as the PCE (and The AHB for that matter) to have the right to create and promote, as in the case of Dr Jan Wright, through multiple media releases as well as parliament, opinions and reports which are erroneous and / or misleading. Further, the PCE deliberately and consciously excluded and rejected input from many New Zealanders who requested personal input directly to the PCE prior to the release of the report.
When reading the document below please regard any reference addressed to The Ombudsmen as being now addressed to you, the representatives of Government and democracy in New Zealand.
Dear (Ombudsmen); Governor General, Honourable Speaker, members of the New Zealand Parliament.
We are writing to you on behalf of the NZWBM Society but please note that many other persons have equal concerns to those expressed herein. In particular Dr Jo Pollard who is a co signatory to this document. Certain other scientists and like minded persons are included by virtue of documents and emails included herein and as evidence supporting. There is pubic outrage about the PCE report “Evaluating the Use of 1080”. Letters confirming this outrage can be seen in Appendix ii.
This document is both a complaint and a request to investigate.
This has come about as a result of both the outrage expressed by several persons as well as the NZWBM Society.
Please refer to Appendix ii – Examples of outrage from the public. Appendix ii contains several letters addressed to PCE as well as newspapers. The letters written to PCE were written objecting to the report statements and in our case at least, were not responded to.
Finally, we wrote an OIA request to PCE with 12 questions. Please refer to Appendix iii.
The OIA request and the PCE response which can be seen in Appendix iii demonstrate amongst other things, that the Commissioner has taken solely upon herself to determine the parameters of the PCE evaluation of 1080 and claims that the commissioning of the report was her decision alone; and yet she makes a specific recommendation against the MP Rahui Katene Members Bill which called for a moratorium on 1080. This would indicate that there may have been specific pressures placed on the PCE by powers within Parliament to conduct this review and conveniently at a time when anti 1080 sentiment within the general public is escalating. In fact, within section 1.1 of the PCE report it states; “Given the ongoing controversy regarding 1080, this investigation has been undertaken to provide Members of Parliament,—“
A That the PCE report and review of 1080 poison titled “Evaluating the Use of 1080: Predators, poisons and silent forests” was purported to be competent and did recommend a continuance and even an increase in 1080 poison use despite the fact it had very narrow parameters and had restrictions placed on input from special interest groups such as our society and others such as the Game and Forest foundation (Gary Ottmann). We believe the report to be incompetent, incomplete and therefore invalid. We contend that if a proper re-evaluation was necessary, then it should have been carried out as such by the ERMANZ or expert independent court taking into account all parameters including social effects. The statements accompanying the release of the report have misled Parliament, the media and the public into thinking the “evaluation of the Use of 1080” was a comprehensive study, when in fact it is not and was not intended to be.
(Please refer section 1.3 of the PCE report. “What this report does not cover”
This report does not cover:
• The state and effectiveness of the whole national pest management system.
• The conduct or outcomes of specific operations, except occasionally as examples.
• Detailed analysis of community perceptions and attitudes towards the use of 1080.
• The Animal Health Board’s actions in controlling bovine tuberculosis (TB) in any detail.
• Concerns held by some Maori regarding the physical, cultural and spiritual impact of using 1080.
• The controls and regulations around the registration and use of 1080 in detail. )
The PCE report also contains this statement on page 56.
“Trapping can be a safe and effective method to control possums and stoats in forest edges, along rivers, and in intensively managed patches of forest, but it can only ever play a supplementary role on the great majority of the conservation estate.”
–and yet, 5 of the 6 bullet points above are issues relating directly and indirectly to trapping or the use of bait stations and cyanide but are specifically not covered in this PCE “Evaluation”
We further refer you to the Ombudsmen file no’ Your ref: 295179 where we presented a lot of detail about the involvement and practices of the Animal Health Board, which is the major user of 1080 in NZ, but consideration of this use has been avoided by the PCE.
We contend that the phrase on p56 of the PCE report “ but it (trapping) can only ever play a supplementary role on the great majority of the conservation estate.” is not backed up by fact where possums are a significant issue, and in any case there is more of NZ than just the so-called “Conservation Estate”. Not only DoC is involved with promoting 1080, but the SOE, ACP LTD, the AHB and several regional councils, some of which operate business units which dispense 1080 and all of which are publicly funded. We suspect that these vested interests provided biased cost and other related information to the PCE but the PCE refused to reveal to us who or what the sources were when we applied under the OIA.
In effect the PCE has not fully investigated the option of trapping and ground based pest management and the PCE report is thus biased toward 1080 and a peculiar emphasis on the Department of Conservation and its historical obsession with aerial 1080 application over large areas. Both DoC and the AHB routinely apply 1080 poison over large areas which are otherwise accessible to ground based operators, contrary to the statement “Some terrain is too rugged or dangerous for trapping,and trapping is not practical on a large scale.” (p 55, PCE report)
In fact this section 7 of the PCE report if full of “motherhood” type statements such as
“Traps do not leave residues in water or soil, but may be abandoned to rust away;” and similar comments biased against ground based systems.
With reference to report section 8.5:
“It is not cost-effective to control pests using ground operations in large areas of back country. However, well-organised large scale fur harvesting, like the wild venison hunting of the seventies, may be economically viable.”
“A working group involving the Department of Conservation, the Animal Health Board, regional councils, and industry representatives has been established to consider developing policies and procedures for testing the economic potential of fur harvesting, but it is not at all clear that it is a priority.”
The first paragraph from 8.5 above is self contradictory. There is no proof provided for either statement.
The second paragraph above signifies the point that the major users of 1080 are not particularly prioritising the establishment of alternative large scale ground based methods.
There is no data provided to us via OIA requests to PCE about who was actually consulted but we are aware that Mr Steve Boot representing The NZ Fur Council was interviewed. He told us that he presented an economic case supporting harvesting as a viable option currently supporting a $125 million domestic and export industry, and we quote–*
”1080 has been used for 50 yrs in this country, and we still have possums. Yet we are continually being told that it is a panacea and we will all go to hell in a hand basket if we restrict or lose its use. The reality is that it is just a tool and a very blunt and clumsy one at that. It is the opinion of NZFC that the continued use of 1080 as it stands has more to do with an ideological agenda. 1080 is only registered for possums and rats (there is plenty of evidence that its effectiveness on rats is very short) yet thousands of deer pigs and other mammals and birds are killed as by-kill every year.
It is worth noting here that only around 20% of all pest control undertaken in NZ uses 1080; this includes hand laid. The very impressive gains that have been made in reducing possum densities in NZ over the last 15 years have been on the back of very efficient and cost effective ground control that has used methods other than 1080.
NZFC is very concerned that the continued use of 1080 as it stands at present is putting at risk an industry that generates $125,000,000 per year and removes 1.75 million possums from the NZ environment at little or no cost to public and private funders”;
but the NZ Fur Council representative was told by PCE Commissioner, that he was not believed.
*(Please refer to appendix ii for full transcripts of correspondence the NZ Fur Council had with PCE.
B That certain conclusions reached by the PCE, whether by the result of selective exclusion of varying information or with the inclusion of invalid information or misinterpretation of information, are wrong and thus should cause the report to be declared null and void and invalid.
b1 Full transcripts of correspondence the NZWBM had with PCE to try and be heard, even to the point of us offering to provide a venue for such presentations of evidence and which were denied, are copied below. Please see appendix i.
We consider this a serious breach of our rights as New Zealanders with a special interest in this issue. Also, the PCE has made no acknowledgement of our written and file contributions past or present in the references section or in the body of the report.
b2 The review and interpretation of ecological and analytical science pertaining to the effects on the environment by 1080 are considered to be highly questionable to the point that the body of the PCE report is skewed and biased in favour of 1080 without valid justification.
We refer you to the pdf reports by Dr Quinn and Pat O’Keefe.
Further, we include herein, criticisms by Dr Jo Pollard.
We further make the following; Requests to investigate:
R (request to investigate)
Ra The qualifications expertise and competency of the PCE staff engaged in the PCE review of 1080 poison relative to all the aspects involved including ground based control operations.
Rb Who are these people and what is their expertise in ecological science?
Rc Were full evaluations made of the validity of the science papers they referenced?
Rd What peer reviews were undertaken to ensure PCE obtained full valid data and that all such data was correctly interpreted?
Re We strongly dispute the cost evaluations comparing 1080 operations to ground based. We request the Ombudsmen fully research and prove the true costs of aerial 1080 operations including all related admin, Consents, monitoring, security and other overheads costs. (We believe the true costs on average are more than double the figure reported by PCE. in section 5.5 of the PCE report stating 1080 costs to range from $12 to $16 per hectare. In fact we believe the current true costs of aerial 1080 applications are in the $35-$60 per ha range when indirect costs are included.) We do not believe the PCE has done this and the report provides no evidence of the claimed costs or cost benefits. If the PCE and or the Ombudsmen cannot provide detailed auditable full costs of 1080 operations including all direct and indirect costs, administration costs, MOH, and overhead costs incurred, then this PCE report should be declared null and void and invalid.
Please see attachments and the basic example below.
Annualised costs of the different control methods:
|Possum ground control:||$16.26|
|Bait station grid||$32.15|
|Method||Cost over 10 years||Ecosystem Score|
|Possum ground control||$48,780||11.0|
|Bait station grid (Possum & Rat)||$142,900||39.5|
These results show that ongoing control of possums and rats produces much greater ecosystem benefits. If costs are annualised over 10 years the bait station grid method compares favourably with aerial 1080 costs.
We do not believe the PCE has done this and the report provides no real evidence of the claimed costs or cost benefits. If the PCE and or the Ombudsmen cannot provide detailed auditable full costs of ground based operations including all admin, MOH, and overhead costs incurred, along with the cost recovery from recovered animal products and social / employment benefits then this PCE report should be declared null and void. We know from our own experience the obfuscation placed in our way by the AHB when we question them on facts. Similar obfuscation has been experienced from Regional Councils using the excuse of “commercial sensitivity”.
Please also refer to the attached reports about costs;
Part 2 of DoC disgraceful Overhead costs in 1991 clearly shows that trapping is competitive even 20 years ago, and the obfuscation of costs by the reporting systems within DoC.
Below are extracts from the recent paper:
Bovine Tb Strategy Review of Costs
Prepared by Martin Rosevear and Denis Urlich for
Outcome Management Services: Specialists in Cost Benefit Analysis
42 Seaview Rd
Phone: 04 233 2491, 0274 44 33 07
Table 3.4: Aerial Control Costs (pp 21)
Activity Cost estimate Basis of estimate
|Control (2kg/ha pre-feed + 2kg/ha toxin) 12gm cereal||$20/ha Rosevear 2003|
|Landholder liaison||$3/ha Rosevear 2003|
|Consents||$2/ha Rosevear 2003|
|Sensitive stakeholder management||$5/ha est. based on West Coast tenders|
|Home patch disadvantage||$0 – $7/ha est. based on West Coast tenders|
|By-kill: deer repellent||$7/ha – $12/ha AHB|
|By-kill: complex perimeter control||$3/ha est. based on AHB obs.|
|Weather risk premium (dry versus wet climate)||$5/ha est. based on West Coast tenders|
|Price premium due to market dominance||$0 – $5/ha est. based on West Coast tenders|
|Post operational monitor||$5/ha AHB|
(Derived from this table the minimum cost per ha is around $54 per ha. (our comment))
In summary, in 2003 aerial costs were typically $30/ha (control + survey), but have increased to $35/ha+ in 2010. Over that time issues driving cost have been more demanding specifications, less competition in the market and general cost increases e.g. fuel. The more demanding specifications require contractors to consult more widely, adjust their flight paths to avoid sensitive areas such as waterways and boundaries to minimise by-kill and pollution, and ensure all landholders are fully aware of the operation.
The above critical report is clearly damming of the AHB management and itself may be criticised for over inflation of ground based control cost estimates. Never-the-less, it is clear that the PCE and Dr Jan Wright has grossly mislead parliament and the NZ public as to the cost comparisons of aerial 1080 and other poisons compared to ground based alternatives especially involving recovery of fur and meat.
An AHB operation in Kaingaroa Forest in June 2010 involved a payout by AHB of an estimated $2 ¼ million when the operation could have been done by trappers for $600,000. The Minister of Agriculture was advised but did nothing to save that waste of public funds. In fact, the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Finance claimed to have no records or control or detailed knowledge of AHB funding or costs relating to individual operations such as the South Kaingaroa one. We made a detailed report to Ombudsmen about that matter.( Please also se pp 29-30 et al of this paper for a brief account.)
Rg We contend that competent analysis of the scientific evidence does not support much of the basis of the PCE’s assumptions and that as a result the PCE report should be declared invalid. Please also refer to B, b2, b3. Please refer in particular to:
Dr Jo Pollard, BSc (Hons), PhD (Zoology)
In brief outline, some assertions made by the PCE, and summaries of Dr Pollards assessments are outlined below.
Assertion One (p 34): Aerial 1080 can decrease populations of possums, rats, and stoats
Aerially spread 1080 poison will only reduce numbers of rats for a few months, beyond which a steep increase in numbers is expected. Repeated aerial poisonings of rats are likely to become less effective. Stoat numbers are not likely to be decreased by aerial 1080 for any significant amount of time. Rats and stoats need continuous, rather than pulsed control and a variety of control techniques.
Expected effects of aerial 1080 poison on pests include abundant mice, and cats and mustelids switching their prey from rats (or rabbits) to invertebrates, birds and reptiles.
Overall there is substantial evidence that aerial application of 1080 poison can result in significant ecological upheaval, with increased numbers and impacts of rats and other invasive feral species.
Assertion Two (p 37): 1080 can increase populations of native species
Summary from assertion 2
Of the birds claimed to have benefited from aerial 1080 operations, there is good evidence that it was not at all necessary for whio because their predators are effectively managed by trapping; it can negatively affect kiwi through subsequent stoat predation; it can kill large numbers of tomtits with subsequent population decline despite their resilience due to being prolific breeders and colonisers; and it can kill large numbers of robins and would need to be applied before every breeding season to assist nesting success of survivors. The kereru study cited by the PCE did not involve aerial 1080. For kakariki and mohua, aerial 1080 was used after bad management had decimated populations through interference and misguided predator control. No effect was measured for kakariki, and mohua numbers declined after aerial 1080 poisoning at Hurunui. Managers who used appropriate ground control (a series of different poisons in closely placed bait stations) succeeded in quelling rat plagues without aerial 1080. Similarly, in the study of kokako, there was evidence that ground bait stations were more effective in controlling rats and possums than aerial 1080.
Of the four tree species claimed to benefit from aerial 1080, kamahi, mahoe and tawa showed highly variable results and where positive effects occurred, these were only minor. Fuchsia appeared to benefit but the study was flawed by a lack of replication and inconsistent recording. Negative effects on red mistletoe and fruitfall of pigeonwood were found.
Assertion Three (p 46): 1080 has minimal effects on reptiles, frogs, aquatic life and insects.
Nothing is known about the effects of 1080 on frogs or reptiles, and the very small amount of information on aquatic environments and terrestrial invertebrates indicates that 1080 may have severe effects on them.
Assertion Four (p 52): 1080 was rated as “moderately humane”
1080 has not been assessed as moderately humane by scientists, rather it has been assessed as having intermediate effects compared to other poisons. It is very unlikely that its humaneness could be improved by altering the bait design. Aerial poisoning is less ethical than ground control in which pests can be harvested for commercial use.
Assertion Five (p 5): Without 1080, keeping bovine tuberculosis at bay to protect dairy herds and protecting young trees in plantation forests would be much more difficult and expensive
Ground control of wildlife carriers of Tb is likely to be more effective in protecting dairy herds than aerial poisoning of possums. This is because the incidence of the disease can be monitored, and the disease can be targeted in the areas and animals where it occurs and where it places livestock at risk. Carcasses are a likely source of infection for wildlife and can be removed with ground control. Planted forests are readily accessible for ground control of pests, thus minimising the amount of toxin entering the ecosystem and its potential for system-wide damage.
Assertion Six (p 68): We do not need more water samples
A reliable method for assessing 1080 contamination of water supplies has not been used historically. Such a method should be identified and applied extensively because of the risk to human health.
Assertion Seven (p 68): There is a strong case for the use of 1080 and other poisons to be permitted activities under the RMA
Any alterations to regulations on pesticide use for vertebrate control should require far more, not less, assessment and monitoring to reduce its high risk to our natural heritage and human health.
The use of aerial 1080 should be stopped until there is compelling evidence that it is not doing irreparable damage to our native fauna and ecosystems. Considering the scale of the risk this practice imposes, valid, objective and wide-ranging research would be expected to underlie its on-going use. The PCE has not managed to find such research and indeed, the research she has cited demonstrates that aerial 1080 has devastating ecological effects through killing native birds and causing large increases in pest populations. Research shows that ground control of pests using trapping and/or bait stations is not only feasible but likely to be far more effective in reducing predation on native fauna and in controlling Tb.
Rh Overall: Can the PCE report be considered to be a competent document which properly “evaluates the use of 1080”? We do not believe so.
The PCE report should be declared null and void and invalid.
Graham A. Sperry.
Chairman. NZ Wildlands Biodiversity Management Society Incorporated.
Dr J.C. Pollard.
B.Sc. (Hons), PhD (Zoology)