1080 poisoned deer

Is 1080 “moderately humane”?

Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), claimed in her 2011 public report “Evaluating the use of 1080: Predators, poisons and silent forests” that 1080 had been rated as “moderately humane”. This term can now be found shortened to “humane” when you browse some official poisoning documents such as Assessments of Effects.

NZ weta poisoned

Is DoC looking after our insects?

Insects were in the media spotlight earlier this year due to a review published in the journal Biological Conservation. The review showed that insect populations worldwide are declining dramatically, largely due to habitat destruction and pesticides. Their importance in ecological systems, as food for other animals, pest controllers, recyclers and pollinators was spelt out.

Nerw Zealands birds poisoned

Time to think about kea

The kea, NZ’s unique mountain parrot, needs urgent consideration. This spring, poisonous food baits are being spread by air over of much its habitat by the Department of Conservation (DoC). Twelve per cent of resident kea are expected to die within a few days of the poisoning, according to DoC’s studies.

Letter to Mike Slater, DOC, Re: Aerial1080 in Arthurs Pass National Park

1 August 219

Mr Mike Slater
Deputy Director-General (Operations)
Department of Conservation
Conservation House
P.O. Box 10420
Wellington 6143

Dear Mr Slater

Re: Poisoning of Arthurs Pass National Park

You have given consent for the business “Vector Control Services” to aerially poison Arthurs Pass National Park, including places that have not been poisoned before, primarily to control rats in order to protect kakariki.

Your department’s most recent monitoring indicates that according to its own target, no poisoning is necessary.

Furthermore the consent application (supplied by OIA request 20/06/19) gave you no substance upon which to base your decision. It failed to reference any of its claims of benefit. It also failed to discuss relevant risks and unknowns (e.g. 1080 persistence in cold water) and known adverse effects such as sub-lethal damage (e.g. birth defects, reproductive damage). It ignores many relevant details regarding the ecology of the area and responses to aerial poisoning.

Because of these deficiencies, your consent breaches the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1986 (in at least Sections 5, 6, 7 and 95A (Part 3)).

Details:

  1.  The consent provided is to bring rat tracking to below 5%. The most recent rat monitoring was in May. Rat tracking was low, averaging 2.7% (average tunnels tracked/night) (data supplied via OIA request 20/6/19).
  2.  No attempt has been made to assess the amount of food now available to fuel an anticipated rodent plague. Anecdotal reports are that due to very dry autumn conditions, beech seeds shrivelled up and there is little food. In previous studies beech masting was assessed using collected seed (Griffiths & Barron, 2016), however no such effort seems to have been made despite the enormous scale of the proposed poisoning.
  3. Contrary to the consent application’s claim, there is no certain relationship between beech masting and rat numbers (Brown et al., 2015; Griffiths & Barron, 2016). Usually in beech forests, if rodents do increase after masting, it is mice rather than rats (Ruscoe & Murphy, 2005). 1080 is not usually effective against mice (Fisher & Airey, 2009).
  4. Aerial 1080 operations result in increased mouse tracking, then very high numbers of rats start to build up after a few months after its use (Ruscoe et al., 2011; Griffiths & Barron, 2016) because they are well equipped to take over the unused resources left by the poisoned animals. Rats can develop tolerance to 1080 (ERMA 2007, ERR p. 535). They are generalist feeders and very fast breeding so they are set to be the last animal thriving after repeated poisoning campaigns (Kisner, 2016).
  5. 1080-poisoned kakariki have been found (Fairweather et al., 2015). There are only a few hundred of this species left, so risking poisoning of any individuals is irresponsible.
  6. One of the few monitored species, the kea, suffers 12% losses in every operation on average. It is claimed by DoC that losses are greatest where kea are familiar with people (Kemp et al., 2018). If so losses should be high in this heavily used national park. Also it is winter, meaning that kea are hungry and tending to feed on the ground, at lower altitudes (Jackson, 1960), so the chances of eating poisoned bait are very high. To make matters worse, two exemptions to the Kea Code of Practice made in the consent application are being granted: blood is apparently to be added as a deer repellent and baits are to be sown at 3 kg/ha (double density) in kakariki areas. There is an unknown number of kea remaining in the wild but it may be less than 1000 (Bond & Diamond, 1992; Harper, 2012; Roy, 2016).
  7. Most native species have not been monitored, therefore 1080 poisoning effects on populations and ecology are unknown (Whiting-O’Keefe & Whiting-O’Keefe, 2007; Veltman et al., 2014; Brown et al., 2015; Pollard, 2016).
  8. There is no study showing any benefits of aerial 1080 poisoning to populations of birds. One of the two (only) studies cited that purportedly show this used mixed pest control techniques and unreliable measurement (in the Landsborough Valley) and the other merely made comparisons within years of an ingrained 1080 cycle where rats rapidly repopulated poisoned areas (in the Tongariro kiwi sanctuary) (Pollard, 2019).
  9. The consent application claims that nesting kea will benefit from the poisoning due to reduced stoat numbers. But scientists had previously concurred that stoats do not normally bother nesting kea (Jackson, 1969; Elliott & Kemp, 1999). Moreover, stoats are not reliably killed by 1080 and survivors turn to eating native birds, after their rat food supply is suddenly poisoned off (King & Murphy, 2005).
  10. The consent application claims that kea show increased “nesting success” after 1080 which shows that populations increase. But “nesting success” increases after many individuals in a group have been killed, because those remaining have increased resources (Nilsson, 1984; Arcese & Smith, 1988; Eason et al., 2011). It is not a measure of population size. Furthermore there is no credible scientific backing to the kea nesting success claim (Kemp et al., 2015, unpublished; Kemp et al., 2018; Pollard, 2017).
  11. Currently trapping for stoats is being carried out in the area. Because stoats are the rat’s main predator, this trapping may increase rat numbers. More thoughtful ground-based control can achieve desired low levels of pests, even if they do rise following masting (Elliot & Suggate, 2007). The area already has many tracks, huts, volunteers and trapping networks.
  12. Kakariki numbers have already suffered greatly at the hands of DoC, through trapping of stoats leading to rat plagues (Elliott & Suggate, 2007), nest interference and egg stealing (DoC 2002a; 2002b; 2003; Ellott & Suggate 2007). Different, independent, expertly advised management of this species is needed urgently.
  13. The consent application erroneously states that 1080 is of “medium humaneness” to possums. In fact the research on this topic did not state it was humane at all. It stated that 1080 had severe effects lasting for hours; because of this it was rated as having an “intermediate welfare impact”, compared to cyanide (which causes rapid loss of consciousness and death) and brodifacoum (which has a severe to extreme impact for days to weeks) (Beausoleil et al., 2010).
  14. Many serious risks of using 1080 and a lack of knowledge on the effects of 1080 were described in a comprehensive report by the Environmental Risk Management Authority in 2007 (ERMA Review: visit https://1080science.co.nz/1080-data-quality/).
  15. Persistence of 1080 has been very poorly quantified, but it is known to be greater in cool conditions, dry places, and substrates lacking the right biological conditions (e.g. sterile water, types of soil). The ERMA review noted that degradation rates in NZ field conditions were unknown (https://1080science.co.nz/biodegradation-in-soil/). In contaminated animals, it was still present when short-term studies ended (live ants, trout, eels, koura; dead deer) and further studies have not been carried out. Breakdown products are toxic (including fluoromethane and fluorocitrate) and not well understood (Fisk et al., 2007, review in ERMA, 2007; Northcott et al., 2014).

Please will you confirm that you have received this letter and have considered the topics raised? I trust that given the demonstrable lack of reason, thought or legality that underlie the poisoning operation it will be cancelled and the deadly bait will be disposed of as safely as possible.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Dr Jo Pollard (BSc (Hons), PhD)

 

References:
Arcese, P., Smith, J.M., 1988. Effects of population density and supplemental food on reproduction in song sparrows. Journal of Animal Ecology 57: 119-136.

Beausoliel, N., Fisher, P., Warburton, B., Mellor, D., 2010. How humane are our pest control tools? (09-11326). MAF Biosecurity New Zealand Technical Paper no: 2011/01. 149 pp.

Bond, A., Diamond, J., 1992. Population estimates of Kea in Arthur’s Pass National Park. Notornis 39: 151-160.

Brown, K., Elliott, G., Innes, J. & Kemp, J., 2015. Ship rat, stoat and possum control on mainland New Zealand. An overview of techniques, successes and challenges. Department of Conservation report. 40 pp.

DoC, 2002a. Rare Bits 44, April 2002

DoC, 2002b. Rare Bits 45, June 2002

DoC, 2003. Rare Bits 49, June 2003

Eason, C., Miller, A., Ogilvie, S., Fairweather, A., 2011. An updated review of the toxicology and ecotoxicology of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) in relation to its use as a pest control tool in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 35(1): 1-20.

Elliott, G., Kemp, J., 1999. Conservation ecology of kea (Nestor notabilis). WWF-NZ Final Report 1 August 1999, 64 pp.

Elliott, G., Suggate, R. 2007. Operation Ark. Three year progress report. Department of Conservation.

ERMA, 2007. Environmental Risk Management Authority’s Reassessment of 1080, Application HRE05002.

Fairweather, A., Broome, K., Fisher, P., 2015. Sodium fluoroacetate pesticide information review. Department of Conservation Report Docdm-25427. 103 pp.

Fisher, P. & Airey, A.T., 2009. Factors affecting 1080 pellet bait acceptance by house mice
(Mus musculus). Department of Conservation DOC Research & Dev Series 305-308 Feb-March.

Griffiths, J.W., Barron, M.C., 2016. Spatiotemporal changes in relative rat (Rattus rattus) abundance following large-scale pest control. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 40(3): 371-380.

Harper, P., 2012. DOC shocked five Kea shot dead. Nestor Notabilis 6: 24.

Jackson, J.R., 1960. Keas at Arthurs Pass. Notornis IX: 39-58 .

Jackson, J.R., 1969. What do keas die of? Notornis 16: 33-44.

Kemp, J., Cunninghame, F., Barrett, B., Makan, T., Fraser, J., Mosen, C., 2015, unpublished. Effect of an aerial 1080 operation on the productivity of the kea (Nestor notabilis) in a West Coast rimu forest. Department of Conservation report. 15 pp.

Kemp, J.R., Mosen, C.C., Elliott, G.P., Hunter, C.M., 2018. Effects of the aerial application of 1080 to control pest mammals on kea reproductive success. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 42: 158-168.

King, C. & Murphy, E., 2005. Stoat. Pp. 204-221. In. C.M. King (Ed). The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals (2nd Edition). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Kisner, J., 2016. Man V. Rat: Could the long war soon be over?
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/20/man-v-rat-war-could-the-long-war-soon-be-over

Nilsson, S.G., 1984. The evolution of nest-site selection among hole-nesting birds: The importance of nest predation and competition. Ornis Scandinavica 15: 167-175.

Northcott, G., Jensen, D., Ying, L., & Fisher, P., 2014. Degradation rate of sodium fluoroacetate in three New Zealand soils. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 33: 1048-1058.

O’Donnell, C.F.J. & Hoare, J.M., 2012. Quantifying the benefits of long-term integrated pest control for forest bird populations in a New Zealand temperate rainforest. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 36: 131-140.

Pollard. J.C., 2016. Aerial 1080 poisoning in New Zealand: Reasons for concern.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308712508_Aerial_1080_poisoning_in_New_Ze aland_Reasons_for_concern 17 pp.

Pollard, J.C., 2017. Response to the Department of Conservation’s reply to “Aerial 1080 poisoning in New Zealand: reasons for concern”. 17 pp.

Pollard, J.C. 2019. https://1080science.co.nz/science-against-1080/

Ruscoe, W., Murphy, E., 2005. Pp 204-221. In King, C.M. (Ed.). The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals (2nd Edition). Oxford University Press, Melbourne. 610 pp.

Ruscoe, W.A., Ramsey, D.S.L., Pech, R.P., Sweetapple, P.J., Yockney, I., Barron, M.C., Perry, M., Nugent, G., Carran, R., Warne, R., Brausch, C. & Duncan, R.P., 2011. Unexpected consequences of control: Competitive vs. predator release in a four-species assemblage of invasive mammals. Ecology Letters 14: 1035-1042.

Roy, E.A., 2016. New Zealand kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, faces extinction
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/21/new-zealand-kea-the-worlds-only-alpine-parrot-faces-extinction

Ruscoe, W.A., Ramsey, D.S.L., Pech, R.P., Sweetapple, P.J., Yockney, I., Barron, M.C., Perry, M., Nugent, G., Carran, R., Warne, R., Brausch, C., Duncan, R.P. 2011. Unexpected consequences of control: Competitive vs. predator release in a four-species assemblage of invasive mammals. Ecology Letters 14: 1035-1042.

Smith, D., Jamieson, I.G., 2003. Movement, diet, and relative abundance of stoats in an alpine habitat. New Zealand Department of Conservation Science Internal Series 107, 16 pp.

Veltman, C.M., Westbrooke, I.M., Powlesland, R.G. & Greene, T.C., 2014. A principles-based decision tree for future investigations of native New Zealand birds during aerial 1080 operations. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 38: 103-109.

Whiting-O’Keefe, Q.E., Whiting O’Keefe, P.M., 2007. Aerial Monofluoroacetate in New Zealand’s Forests. An appraisal of the scientific evidence. https://1080science.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Whiting-Okeefe-2.pdf 88 pp.

Science against 1080

Will NZ’s Department of Conservation win against rodents and stoats with 1080 poison? Scientist Dr Jo Pollard puts the counter view.

The New Zealand government’s Department of Conservation (DoC) is responsible for managing our land and natural resources for the purposes for conservation.

NZ Kea

20 Reasons why DoC should not poison kea habitat

  1. An average of 12% of marked kea have been reported dead within the first few days of aerial poisonings (DoC, 2016; Kemp et al., 2016, unpublished); range up to 78% (Graf, 2011). (Figures do not include later deaths from carcass scavenging or slow deaths from poisoning.)
  2. There are very few kea: the total number is unknown (Roberts, 2014) but estimates as low as 1000 individuals have been made since 1986 (Bond & Diamond, 1992; Harper, 2012; Roy, 2016).
  3. 1080 causes many hours of suffering before death. DoC has been criticised for not acknowledging the suffering the poison causes to a very wide range of non-target species (ERMA, 2007).
  4. Sub-lethal effects of 1080 on birds include damage to testicular morphology (Balcomb et al. 1983) and heart and wing muscles (Ataria et al, 2000).
  5. Scientists concluded that stoats and possums were NOT a threat to kea nests (Jackson, 1969; Elliott & Kemp, 1999)
  6. The studies DoC has made of kea are artefacts: nests repeatedly visited and interfered with by humans and showing high levels of disturbance (Orr-Walker, 2012). In contrast, nesting kea are normally secretive; the hen takes years to build her nest and uses it for life (Jackson, 1963).
  7. DoC claims to have measured a “benefit” from better nest survival of kea after 1080 poisoning at Okarito. This was an unscientific, unreplicated study in one area. As usual the 1080 killed adult kea and was followed by large increases in mice, rats, then a stoat plague in late 2012 (Kemp et al., 2015, unpublished) which was dishonestly cut from the published study’s graph (Kemp et al., 2018).
  8. Even though DoC has invested thousands of hours videoing kea nests, there is very little evidence that stoats ever prey on kea & none of it has been published for scientific scrutiny (Pollard, 2017).

Even if stoats were a major predator of kea, then poisoning with 1080 is a poor method of controlling them because:

  1. 1080 poison results in highly variable kill rates of stoats (they don’t eat cereal baits so have to eat poisoned creatures to die) (King & Murphy, 2005; Dilks et al., 2011; Kemp et al., 2014, unpubl.).
  2. Stoats are unlikely to be poisoned by preying on mice, because mice do not normally eat 1080 pellets (Fisher & Airey, 2009).
  3. Stoats are unlikely to be killed by preying on rats in alpine kea habitats, because very few rats live there (Christie et al., 2016).
  4. Stoats that remain after poisoning can “prey-switch” to eat more birds than beforehand (DoC, 2002; King & Murphy, 2005).
  5. The escalations in rodent numbers which follow 1080 operations are likely to fuel increases in stoat numbers (Byrom et al., 2013).
  6. Natural stoat plagues last for only a few months before crashing naturally (King 1984; 1990).
  7. Survival of kea adults, rather than any short -term threat to nests, is more important, because they are a long-lived species with a high juvenile mortality rate (largely due to starvation; estimated as 50-68%) (Jackson, 1969; King, 1984; Bond & Diamond, 1992).
  8. Any risk is spread because the kea nesting season is very broad (Jackson, 1963) and only a portion of adults breed in any year (Kemp et al,. 2016, unpublished; Jackson, 1963).
  9. There are indications that kea nesting increases in mast years (Kemp et al., 2015a, cited in DoC, 2016, unpublished) potentially offsetting any increase in stoat predation.
  10. Fears that a mast-driven stoat plague would devastate birds in the Murchison Mountains turned out to be unfounded; when the food supply (mice) crashed, stoats shifted to eating ground weta, not birds (Smith & Jamieson, 2003).
  11. Masting vegetation is not a reliable indicator of stoat plagues (O’Donnell & Hoare, 2012; Smith & Jamieson, 2003; Griffiths & Barron, 2016) yet it is used to plan operations in kea habitat (Kea Code of Practice (DoC, 2016 unpublished)).
  12. 1080 is not only toxic to kea and other birds, but all air-breathing organisms including bacteria, fungi, plants, and invertebrates (ERMA, 2007).

References

Ataria, J.M., Wickstrom, M., Arthur, D., Eason, C.T., 2000. Biochemical and histopathological changes induced by sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) in mallard ducks. New Zealand Plant Protection 53:293- 298.

Balcomb, R., Bowen, C.A., Williams, H.O., 1983. Acute and sublethal effects of 1080 on starlings. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 31: 692-698.

Bond, A., Diamond, J., 1992. Population estimates of Kea in Arthur’s Pass National Park. Notornis 39: 151-160.

Byrom, A., Banks, P., Dickman, C. & Pech, R., 2013. Will reinvasion stymie large-scale eradication of invasive mammals in New Zealand? Kararehe Kino 21: 6-7.

Christie, J.E., Wilson, P.R., Taylor, R.H., Elliott, G., 2017. How elevation affects ship rat (Rattus rattus) capture patterns, Mt Misery, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 41: 113-119.

Dilks, P., Shapiro, L., Greene, T., Kavermann, M.J., Eason, C.T. & Murphy, E.C., 2011. Field evaluation of para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) for controlling stoats (Mustela erminea) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 38: 143-150.

DoC, 2002. Rare Bits Newsletter 44: 9.

DoC, 2016. Aerial 1080 in kea habitat. Code of Practice. NZ Department of Conservation Unclassified document. 24 pp.

Elliott, G.,  Kemp, J., 1999. Conservation ecology of kea (Nestor notabilis). WWF-NZ Final Report 1 August 1999, 64 pp.

ERMA, 2007. Environmental Risk Management Authority’s Reassessment of 1080, Application HRE05002.

Fisher, P. & Airey, A.T., 2009. Factors affecting 1080 pellet bait acceptance by house mice (Mus musculus). Department of Conservation DOC Research & Dev Series 305-308 Feb-March.

Graf, C., 2011. Seven of Nine Tagged Kea Killed in Okarito Kiwi 1080 drop. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1109/S00139/seven-of-nine-tagged-kea-killed-in-okarito-kiwi-1080-drop.htm

Griffiths, J.W., Barron, M.C., 2016. Spatiotemporal changes in relative rat (Rattus rattus) abundance following large-scale pest control. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 40: 371-380.

Harper, P., 2012. DOC shocked five Kea shot dead. Nestor Notabilis 6: 24.

Jackson, J.R., 1963. The nesting of Kea. Notornis X: 319-326.

Jackson, J.R., 1969. What do keas die of? Notornis 16: 33-44.

Kemp, J., Orr-Walker, T., Elliott, G., Adams, N., Fraser, J., Roberts, L., Mosen, C., Amey, J., Barrett, B., Makan, T., 2014, unpublished. Benefits to kea (Nestor notabilis) populations from invasive mammal control via aerial 1080 baiting. Department of Conservation. 29 pp.

Kemp, J., Cunninghame, F., Barrett, B., Makan, T., Fraser, J., Mosen, C., 2015, unpublished. Effect of an aerial 1080 operation on the productivity of the kea (Nestor notabilis) in a West Coast rimu forest. Department of Conservation report. 15 pp.

Kemp, J., Hunter, C., Mosen, C., Elliott, G., 2016, unpublished. Draft: Kea population responses to aerial 1080 treatment in South Island landscapes. Department of Conservation, 14 pp.

Kemp, J., Mosen, C., Elliott, G., Hunter, C., 2018. Effects of the aerial application of 1080 to control pest mammals on kea reproductive success New Zealand Journal of Ecology 42: 158-168.

King, C., 1984. Immigrant Killers.  Introduced Predators and the conservation of birds in New Zealand Oxford University Press. 224 pp.

King, C., 1990. Stoats. Pp. 288-312. In. C.M. King (Ed.). The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

King, C. & Murphy, E., 2005. Stoat. Pp. 204-221. In. C.M. King (Ed). The Handbook of New Zealand Mammals (2nd Edition). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

O’Donnell, C.F.J. & Hoare, J.M., 2012. Quantifying the benefits of long-term integrated pest control for forest bird populations in a New Zealand temperate rainforest. NZ Journal of Ecology 36: 131-140.

Orr-Walker , T., 2012. Nest Monitoring – Arthurs Pass. Nestor Notabilis 6: 12.

Pollard, J., 2017. Response to the Department of Conservation’s reply to “Aerial 1080 poisoning in New Zealand: reasons for concern”. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313881837_Response_to_the_Department_of_Conservation%27s_reply_to_Aerial_1080_poisoning_in_New_Zealand_reasons_for_concern

Roberts, L., 2014. Population estimates of wild Kea (Nestor notabilis)

http://www.academia.edu/659207/Population_estimations_of_wild_Kea_Nestor_notabilis_

Roy, E.A., 2016. New Zealand kea, the world’s only alpine parrot, faces extinction

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/21/new-zealand-kea-the-worlds-only-alpine-parrot-faces-extinction

Smith, D., Jamieson, I.G., 2003. Movement, diet, and relative abundance of stoats in an alpine habitat. DoC Science Internal Series 107, 16 pp.

Why is TbFree Poisoning Kea Habitat?

TbFree, formerly the Animal Health Board (AHB), explains:

Despite having a very low human health risk now, bovine TB is still regarded as an unwanted disease in New Zealand because of the negative consumer perceptions and adverse market reactions it could generate. High levels of TB would also cause significant production losses for New Zealand farmers….

“Controlling possums helps to minimise the risk of the disease spreading within the possum population and to livestock.  We know if we can keep the numbers low enough for long enough over large areas, we can eventually eradicate TB…

“Currently biodegradeable 1080 is the only control method that can be applied aerially. This means it can be used for quick and effective control in hard to access areas, or large tracts of land, where ground control is impractical” – Tb free website 2014


 

What do science and history say?

The Animal Health Board, now called TBFree, has no rational basis for using aerial 1080 poison to kill possums.

This was highlighted when the AHB applied in 2007 to continue aerial 1080 poisoning operations, to the Environmental Risk Management Authority:

“No research is cited in the Application that studies the dollar losses occurring from the loss of one or more export markets..Clough & Nixon (2000) conclude…a trade ban would be difficult to sustain under current international trade rules, the risk is very small and the expected value of an avoided trade ban is modest…

 

“The Application…fails to demonstrate evidence or understanding of economic research on use of 1080, pest control or Tb…this section of the application is unsophisticated, uses crude approaches to estimate even the largest benefits and costs associated with the use of 1080, lacks awareness of many pertinent economic research techniques, seems unaware of almost all relevant economic research.” – Professor Ross Cullen, Economic Expert advising the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), 2007

 

“around 3% of all human Tb cases are M. bovis…The Ministry of Health attributes these low rates to herd testing and the widespread pasteurisation of milk…

 

 “even if bovine Tb were prevalent in cattle it would not present a real risk to human health…

 

 ”We recommend that in making its decisions, ERMA de-emphasise the importance of bovine Tb”. – NZ Health experts advising ERMA, 2007

 

the applicants have provided little factual support to demonstrate efficacy of aerial compared with ground application of 1080 as it relates to possums and Tb control…

 “the relative contributions of possums and other wildlife (particularly ferrets) to Tb infection of cattle and deer herds are not clearly defined at this time.” – ERMA Agency, 2007

 

“there is no evidence to support the suggestion that trade is significantly reduced by not having bovine Tb-free status.” – ERMA Committee, 2007

 

Localised, farm margin harvesting of all Tb-carrying species would be far more rational than broadscale 1080 poisoning, because

  • Tuberculous possums are clustered in relatively small, stationary “hotspots”
  • possums (both diseased and healthy) living in forests were found to only travel occasionally onto farm pastures, and none were found to move more than 1300m

“Tuberculosis possums were clustered in “hotspots” and identification and targeting of these high prevalence areas would make control of tuberculosis in wildlife more effective” – S. Norton et al., NZ Veterinary Journal, 2005

 “The disease shows remarkable spatial clustering…that can persist over extended periods of time…despite intensive possum control efforts…methods for the future may include…identification of spatial determinants of “hotspots” to allow more targeted population control” – R. Jackson, NZ Veterinary Journal, 2002

“operations to reduce possum numbers in Tb-problem areas would need to encompass at least 1 km of forest adjacent to pasture….

“Where the problem is long-standing and the incidence of Tb in possums is high at the forest/pasture margin (>10%), infection may already be present in the deep forest (Cook & Coleman, 1975), and control may be required further (1-2km) into forest.” – W. Green & J. Coleman, NZ J. Ecology, 1986

  • Tb is found in a wide range of wildlife, not just possums. The role of other wildlife in spreading and maintaining Tb infection is not very well known.

 

“…some deer species and ferrets may act as vectors of the disease, but their role in transmitting TB to livestock is unclear…

 “Hedgehogs, pigs, cats, sheep and goats are now considered to be amplifier hosts, and spread the disease to other species only when inspected or their carcass scavenged.

 “Tuberculosis has been recorded in a small number of stoats …Disease prevalences are unknown, and estimates of them are difficult, due to the rapid turnover of stoat populations and difficulty in trapping them…

“Tuberculosis has been identified in a limited number of feral goat populations, but none of them have been studied in detail.” –  J. Coleman & M. Cooke, Tuberculosis, 2001

 

After a TbFree aerial poisoning operation, the carcasses of all animals are left for scavengers. This includes rats, stoats, ferrets and pigs, which can all catch and spread Tb:

 

“In endemic areas, rats have ample opportunity to inhale or ingest M. Bovis bacilli during their scavenging of infected carrion, and of transmitting Tb to other species when scavenged themselves.” –  J. Coleman & M. Cooke, Tuberculosis, 2001

Feral ferrets (Mustela furo) and stoats (M. Erminea) are abundant in many regions of the country and are highly susceptible to infection with M. Bovis…the disease appears to be maintained by consumption of tuberculous carrion” – R. Jackson, NZ Veterinary Journal, 2002

“The interaction between pest species is poorly understood. For example, rodent numbers sometimes increase following possum control operations, which may lead to an increase in stoat populations” – G. Nugent et al., Kararehe Kino Vertebrate Pest Research, 2008

 

“our analysis which showed no decrease in ferret abundance at sites that have been subject to possum control” – S. Norton et al., NZ Veterinary Journal, 2005

 

“pathology indicates most pigs are infected by feeding on tuberculosis carrion…

 “Pigs are wide ranging and often forage in large family groups so whole-group feeding on a single carcass may often amplify the number of infected animals.” – T. Ryan et al., Veterinary Microbiology, 2006

 

Recent documented evidence points to human error in spreading and monitoring Tb:

 

“Twelve percent of dairy herds have 500 or more animals…High prevalence breakdowns in such herds have occurred…Movements of animals in-and-out of such herds is a plausible cause, but “stress” leading to immune dysfunction probably also contributes.”

 

“In terms of TB in Northland, there are currently seven herds…which have tested positive. A high level of TB infection has been found in young stock and there has been movement of infected calves traced to a farm south of Kaitaia…response by TBfree NZ has included…wildlife surveys to assess infection in wild animals such as possums and wild pigs. To date, 47 pigs and 340 possums have been sampled from the Awanui area and no TB infection has been found in wild animals…TBfree NZ are still investigating…findings so far show that dairy cattle sales and stock movements are very complex”

 

“Dispose of dead stock properly…don’t allow wild animals such as pigs to access open offal pits – this could result in TB transfer to wildlife”

 

“Infected herds by type at July 2013:..These figures represent a significant increase in infected herds in the North Island but also a small increase in the South Island.”

 

“Compliance: at the time of this report there are 16 cattle herds 180+ days overdue for testing. This equates to 15 per cent of the national total for overdue tests. A number of these herd owners have been in discussions with the North Island Compliance Manager as they are unable to muster their stock or they have become feral…Unregistered herds are also of concern in the Northland Region.” – N. MacMillian, Northland Regional Council Environmental Management Committee Meeting Tabled Item 30/07/2014

 

“Tb Free New Zealand says recent cases of the disease in two herds in the Rangitata/Orari area of South Canterbury were a West Coast strain…

 This confirms that the herds have become infected from bought-in TB infected cattle…

 A wildlife “survey” in the area caught 996 possums, all of which tested free of the disease.” –  A. Swallow, Rural News 2013

 

“With animal movement, in a study of cattle and deer in the Waikato district, it was found that only 10% of cattle herds were “closed”…

 “Models of this “population” suggested that the “intensity of disease surveillance” has profound effects on the ability to reduce the number of infected herds (Barlow et al., 1998). As a result, surveillance intensity was increased, and there was a rapid reduction in herd prevalence…

 “Accurately identifying all infected and non-infected animals is challenging…

 “With M. Bovis infection, particular problems are an extended pre-clinical period, some animals being unable to mount a normal immune response, and waning of cellular immunity after prolonged infection” – T. Ryan et al., Veterinary Microbiology, 2006

 

Whereas it is not even known how a possum would give Tb to a cow!

 “The mode of transmission between possums and livestock is poorly understood and difficult to study. However, dominant cattle and deer have been observed to approach semi-sedated (“sick”) possums, and sniff and mouth them. – J. Coleman & M. Cooke, Tuberculosis, 2001

 “Possum-to-cattle transmission is thought to occur when cattle investigate disorientated, diseased possums wandering in pastures close to their bush habitats (R.S. Morris, pers. Commun.) – N. Barlow, Trends in Microbiology, 1985

 

Final word from science and history- advice unheeded      

 

“This Council recognises the seriousness of outbreaks of tuberculosis in cattle, but urges that the enormous injection of funds into eradication programmes and the large expenditure on control programmes be matched by the provision of adequate resources for further research…

 

“the cumulative evidence of bird deaths is sufficiently reliable to indicate that there are significant effects on non-target organisms…

 

“the Council recommends that methods be developed for the disposal of unused baits and poisoned carcasses and that the Crown be bound…

 

“The Council recommends that the use of 1080 should not be permitted in any significant wildlife area or reserve and especially in takahe/kakapo areas, forest sanctuaries, biological reserves and national parks…

 

“this Council recommends that appropriate preliminary justification and thorough monitoring processes be a pre-requisite for further 1080 operations…

 

“control operations utilising 1080 may induce bait shyness, are only temporarily effective, and often create favourable conditions for noxious animals by reducing competition, and releasing nesting sites and feeding areas” –  NZ Nature Conservation Council, 1977

Endangered Kea harrassed by DOC

To monitor effects of 1080 poisoning, Kea are harrassed during nesting and year round. Many wear backpacks with transmitters.

Quotes on Harrassment:

“The interests of the bird come first. Birds respond to people in many ways, depending on the species, location and time of year. Disturbance can keep birds from their nests, leaving chicks hungry or enabling predators to take eggs or young…

“Intentional or reckless disturbance of some species at or near the nest is illegal in Britain…

“Disturbance is not just about going too close – a flock of wading birds on the foreshore can be disturbed from a mile away if you stand on the sea wall…

“Repeatedly playing a recording of birdsong or calls to encourage a bird to respond can divert a territorial bird from other important duties, such as feeding its young. Never use playback to attract a species during its breeding season.” – Association of County Recorders and Editors, 2014


“Do not approach nests when young are close to fledging: When the young are disturbed during this stage, they may leave the nest prematurely. Young that fledge prematurely usually do not stay in the nest prematurely despite attempts to put them back, and their survival rates away from or outside the nest are low. So when young birds are fully feathered and very alert, only observe the nest from a distance…

Be wary of nest predators. Avoid leaving tracks that can direct predators to nests. Nest predators are everywhere- on the ground, in vegetation, and in the air- and many are smart enough to watch you…

Also try not to damage or trample vegetation that could expose nests”- Cornell University Lab of Ornithology 2011


“visiting nests to check the contents necessarily results in disturbance of the individuals being studied. Moreover, investigator disturbance may increase the probability of nest predation (Elser and Grand 1993), human scent (Whelan et al. 1994), or nest markers (Picozzi 1995, Yahner and Wright 1985). Human disturbance may also reduce nest attendance or enhance conspicuous behaviour of the parents.” – N. Verboven et al., The Auk, 2001


“One potential nest cavity was visited and there was an attempt to catch the female who was perched close to the site….Four fledglings were caught and transmitters attached…There was quite significant kea activity at the top of the Gibbs track with at least six unbanded birds…Attempts were made to catch as many of these as possible with one team devoting two nights to this task. – C. Mosen, Nestor Notabilis 6, 2014


“When we were checking the nest, I got to crawl inside. It was really interesting, as the cavity was a lot different to what I expected! It was long- I crawled more than my whole body length in – and it was narrow! I had to go in a bit like superman with my arms out in front of me…

“Tomorrow, we were heading to the Hawdon Valley to check on a couple of nests and put bands and transmitters on some chicks- can’t wait!…

“to our surprise, there was a wee chick there! I say wee but he weighed over 1000g. Cory got him out and we weighed, banded, took bloods and feathers and measured him. We attached a satellite transmitter as part of Erin’s work….

“We had heard from someone that they had been near the hut and heard a Kea vocalising a lot, in a way which made Cory think maybe there is a nest up there. So out we went with some kea calls and a telemetry aerial to see if we could find any kea out there. While we were there, we also checked another old nest. Unfortunately we didn’t find anything”. – Sarah, Wellington Zoo website 2012


“Kea monitoring requires specialist skills, involving capture of kea and tagging them with VHF radio transmitters weeks or months before poison baiting. Telemetry surveys are
carried out during the risk period following the operation, on foot and from aircraft.”

– DOC Code of Practice for Aerial 1080 in Kea Habitat, 2014

“7 paired field researchers/observers per site will survey a minimum of 4 ridges each…

“over an 8 day period in mid-January. This will be timed to co-incide with fledglings leaving the nest…

“Observers will…

“capture and band all kea where possible. Associated with satellite and radio tracking of individual birds, banding will be used…

“collection and storage of blood samples at the time of capture will provide samples for other organisations…

Each paired group of researchers must therefore have combined experience in trapping, banding, blood collection and storage, and attachment of tracking equipment.”- L. Roberts, Academia 2014


“The number of experienced kea handlers has increased in recent years due to the corresponding increase in kea conservation work. The number of personnel with competent bird handling skills has made it easier to recruit EBHs each year” – P. Van Klink, Nestor Notabilis 6, 2014


“Corey Mosen revisited our survey nest sites during October and November. Here’s a quick comparison of each of the nests sites from his first visits in August/Sept…Nelson Lakes…2 nests now have 3 chicks total. Beryls nest has failed (with the loss of 2 chicks and one egg), Queen Pow Pow’s nest has been reduced from 3 chicks to two chicks and How’s nest has reduced from 1 chick and 1 egg to 1 egg and 1 chick. Pest visitation seems to be the main factor for nest failure.” – T. Orr-Walker, Kea Conservation Trust Newsletter, 2014


 [Ruru] “Although radio-tagged birds are able to provide extremely robust information on the direct impact of toxins such as 1080…this technique is limited to those species that are able to carry a transmitter…

“34 ruru were captured and radio-tagged…only 11 were known to be alive at the time of the poison operation, due to transmitter failure, predation, and 18 birds dying during a prolonged period of extremely cold weather 2 weeks prior to the operation…

Use of ‘backpack’-type harnesses…for…kereru has been restricted by the Department of Conservation following concerns over instances of harness entanglement and resultant deaths” – T.C. Green et al., NZ J. Ecology 2013


 [Saddleback] “Ten birds had tail-mounted transmitters attached and were monitored weekly. Two weeks after release, four transmittered saddleback were found dead following a week of extremely cold southerlies which brought snow to the higher parts of Boundary Stream.

Necropsies of two birds found they died of aspergillosis, a common fungal disease that can become fatal when the bird is under stress. One bird had a broken neck, but mammalian predation was ruled out. The fourth bird was too decomposed to necropsy, but no obvious signs of predation were found.

A survey six weeks after release estimated 21 birds present, giving a 57% minimum survival rate. There are five known pairs that are courtship feeding, but none are known to have attempted to nest.” – DoC Rare Bits Newsletter, 2004


 [Whio] “Survivors from last year’s release are still encountered, but the birds had transmitters removed because of weight loss problems” – DoC Rare Bits Newsletter, 2000


“The 2011 Kea Summer Survey field work was completed by an enthusiastic team of 40 experienced kea handlers…

“Both areas are integral to a larger population research project which has been run annually for three years in Nelson-Lakes (2009-2011) and four years in Arthurs Pass (2009-2012). This census work aims to establish the density and stability of kea populations in a number of key areas which are subject to different pest management regimes. The nest monitoring and tracking project will provide crucial supporting information.” – T. Orr-Walker, Nestor Notabilis, 2012


“At the start of the 2011 season there were twenty-one kea radio tagged in the Hawdon valley, Arthurs Pass, to be monitored.

Six transmitters were found to be in mortality mode (4 of which were adult breeding females). The loss of these birds significantly reduces the possible sample size of nests to monitor. Additionally, nine transmittered birds remained unaccounted for resulting in only six kea able to be followed.

“Three of these kea are adult females of which only one has been identified as attempting to breed (Queen Pow Pow). The other two females showed no indication of having active cavities or notable courtship or nesting behaviour. Nest cameras set up at the Queen Pow Pow’s nest showed that this nest was abandoned with an egg intact and this pair moved to another nest site which also did not produce chicks.

“Information gleaned from this nesting season appears to indicate that the high number of deaths of both adult and sub-adult birds may now be affecting productivity.

“A case in point is the late 2010 nesting by Mrs Moon (one chick fledged at the end of April 2011). Mrs Moon died one month later on 8 June 2011.” – T. Orr-Walker, Nestor Notabilis, 2012


“a light aircraft was used to radio track birds…Seven kea are present radio tagged in Nelson lakes- ….The three identified breeding pairs…were followed and their nest cavities identified. Out of a seven possible nest sites, three cavities were confirmed by September 2011. Cameras were set up inside and outside each nest area and images taken throughout the breeding season. Only one of the breeding pairs, Ceejay and Kelly, successfully fledged chicks as follows: Nest site 3 successfully fledged three chicks early in December 2011; Nest site 26 most likely failed due to possum predation; Nest Site 8 was found to be infertile. Unfortunately, Kelly, Ceejay’s mate, was recovered dead during the nesting period (necropsy report cause of “sudden death” -unknown)” – T. Orr-Walker, Nestor Notabilis 2012


“This research at two of the three kea summer survey sites aims to support the summer population research by following up on tracking of radio tagged kea at each of the sites and check the status of known nests throughout the breeding season.” – Kea Conservation Trust, 2011


“We stopped regularly while Franny and Brent released their pre-recorded birdsong on the jungle…

The kea was then “processed”, you know, like processed food. Out of Franny’s bag of tricks came a radiotransmitter, with nylon string to attach it, a beak-measuring device, scales and other fandangos…

Oh yeah, I was going to talk about 1080 and keas. Well the story as far as I can make out is that despite years of scepticism from DOC scientists, recent studies of mortality following an aerial 1080 drop have shown keas dying from 1080 poisoning…

One point it is always worth making is that much of the 1080 poisoning in NZ is undertaken by the Animal Health Board in its ongoing battle with TB…But whatever way this does seem to be a big problem…

Alarm bells seem to be ringing and DOC has teamed up with Landcare Research to investigate an effective bird repellent. It will be interesting to see what happens and if the planned drop in Okarito forest goes ahead” – J. Stewart, Blog, 2009


“During the breeding season (July-January) we repeatedly searched for every radio-tagged adult in our study until we found its nest, were confident it was not nesting, found its body, or concluded it had migrated out of our study area…Once it was found, we checked each nest every 2-3 weeks until it either failed or the chicks had fledged…

“We radio-tagged eleven near-fledgling chicks during three summers of our study and in three subsequent summers we flew at 2500-3500 m, in a radio-telemetry equipped fixed wing aircraft over all forested mountains within a 50-km radius of the nests.

Following the flight, we visited all of the birds on foot to see if they were alive. We assumed the birds we could not find from the air had migrated out of our search area…

“We captured and radio-tagged 39 kea which we monitored for an average of 2.5 years each. We found 44 nests in 25 sites and were able to assess the nesting success of 40 of them.”

“Eggs and chicks disappeared from 35% of the nests we monitored and at two of these nests definite sign of stoat predation was found” – G. Elliot & J. Kemp, NZ Dept of Conservation Internal Science Series, 2004


“when in the open on a river flat or above the bush line they carefully watch any large bird flying high above. To do this it is necessary for them to twist the head sideways and while in this stance all the Kea’s attention is occupied…

“The large number of band injuries were caused not by the band being put on improperly but because a band prevents normal swelling of the leg, following a foot injury.” – J. Jackson, Notornis, 1969


“At least three of my seventeen nests with chicks have been discovered by falcons…The parents chase the falcons away. Also visiting Kea are very interested in the nestlings and the parents drive them away from the last five yards of the nest with much noise. I suspect that visiting Keas destroyed the young chicks two or three weeks old in one nest…

“Some hens, if the observer sits on their promontory while they are nesting, get very excited. They fly in a zig-zag flight close over or around under the promontory, swing out 100 yards on either side and call loudly all the time, perhaps a quarter of an hour. The cock during this display remains further back…

“Many of the young cocks do not remain mated to their wives. He moves on but the hen remains, using the nest for her life…

“Other less successful hens fail to mate in their second year. Such a hen often sends much time with a hen busy building. It is possible that the young hen learns much from watching the old hen closely.” – J. Jackson, Notornis, 1963


 “July: Heavy falls of snow cover much ground and Keas feed in the forest and on the forest floor. First eggs laid…

October: Peak of laying. Adults very shy and quiet” – J. Jackson, Notornis, 1960


Please help save the kea from poisoning, harassment and harnesses

“…once in the air they play. The chick dives at her like a falcon. She rolls over and parries the blow. Then the tables are turned. They play in the gusts of a storm, swing around a spur, plunge down into the shelter of a gully and back into the wind on the turbulent air.” – J. Jackson, Notornis 1963

homepage-link-petition

Why is the NZ Government poisoning Kea?

The Department of Conservation (DoC) explains:

“High levels of seed production (‘mast’) in our beech forests is expected to trigger a rodent and stoat explosion later this year. When seed supplies run out these predators will turn on endangered birds…

“A widespread rodent and stoat plague in South Island beech forests would put some of our most threatened bird species such as yellowhead/mōhua and orange-fronted parakeet/kākāriki karanga at serious risk of extinction.” –  DoC website, 2014


What do Science and History say?

Beech masting is natural, temporary, and its effects are not well understood or predictable.

“The density index for R. rattus increased…after the 1976 seedfall, but not after that of 1979.” – C. King, J. Anim. Ecology, 1983

 “A prey switch to ground weta occurred as mice numbers declined, and not to birds, as is often expected or feared by conservation managers.” – D. Smith & I. Jamieson, DoC Science Internal Series, 2003

 “Fluctuations in trap success suggest that stoats become very numerous in the summer and autumn following heavy seedfall, but remain at low abundance in the intervening times.” – N. Alterio et al. NZ J. Ecology, 1999

 “increases in not only mouse, but also bird (and possibly invertebrate) densities may contribute to the high productivity of stoats in the year following a Nothofagus seedfall…

 “When we compared stoat diet in the high-density year with that in the following two years, there were no significant differences in the frequencies of occurrence of birds or invertebrates in stoat guts…

 “Stoats did not eat birds less frequently when mice were abundant, a result also found by King (1983)…

 “Mouse and stoat numbers can rise after poor mast years…so assessing potential impacts on threatened species may require a better predictor than heavy beech seeding alone” – E. Murphy & J. Dowding, NZ J. Ecology, 1995

 “It is likely that seedfall is only one of the factors regulating ship rat numbers in beech forest…

“ship rats were not an important food for stoats in the Hollyford and Eglinton Valleys even in years of relatively high rat abundance (King & Moller 1997).” – B. Studholme, Conservation Advisory Notes, 2000

“Nest predation did not increase in the breeding season following full beech mast-seeding in 1995, when stoat (Mustela erminea) numbers were beginning to rise” – G. Elliot & J. Kemp, WWF Final Report, 1999

 “…satiation of predators and consequent reduced predation rates on birds is now thought to occasionally occur when mice reach extremely high densities (C.M. King, pers. comm.).” – D. Kelly et al., NZ J. Ecology 2005


Science and History show that:

 1080 Poison is Dangerous

 “A number of wild birds and some domestic animals were accidentally killed during the tests…1080 is too dangerous for general use” – S. Barnett & M. Spencer, Journal of Hygiene, 1949


 

 1080 Poison is Persistent

 “in dry or cold conditions it could take months to break down…

 the applicants…clarified that the breakdown of 1080 in the aquatic environment would be better described as dilution” – Environmental Risk Management Authority, 2007


 

 1080 Poison is Ill-advised

 “It is not advisable to expose nationally critical or endangered birds to aerial 1080 baiting, unless evidence from trials or other sources shows the birds do not consume non-toxic baits…

 “we are unaware of any observational studies that have examined the impact of aerial 1080 application on rock wrens…

 “Although the presence and protection of remnant mohua populations is often one of the drivers for aerial distribution of 1080 baits in South Island beech forests…the fate of individual mohua following such operations remains unknown.” – C. Veltman et al., NZ J. Ecology, 2014

 “Kakariki (parakeet)…Dead chicks in a failed nest in the Hurunui Valley operation contained 1080 residues…two unmonitored Kakariki were found dead with 1080 residues in their tissues.” – TBFree New Zealand AEE, 2014

 “The risk of toxin-related mortality is yet to be quantified at the population level for 11 native bird species that are known to have died” – T. Green et al., NZ J. Ecology, 2013


 

 1080 Poison Causes Pest Plagues…..are these the real reason for Doc’s current “Battle for the Birds”?

“ship rat abundance indices increased nearly fivefold after possum control and remained high for up to 6 years…

 “the typical outcome for most pulsed possum control is an uncontrolled ship rat population in the presence of a low-density possum population for most of the 3-7 year cycle.” – P. Sweeetapple & G. Nugent, NZ J. Ecology, 2007

“Intermittent control of possums and ship rats may have the nett effect of increasing ship rats for most of the time.” – J. Innes et al., NZ J Ecology 2010

The mouse index declined in the non-treatment area (30 to 14%), but increased in the treatment area (23 to 30%).” – DoC Rare BitsNewsletter, 2004

“mice are so far the Achilles heel of many programmes, with mouse numbers irrupting” – D. Armstrong et al., NZ J. Ecology 2010

“mice rapidly increased to be more abundant than they were prior to the control operation compared with sites not sown with 1080 baits. Now, 18 months after the initial 1080 operation, possum numbers remain low but rat numbers have increased to higher levels than prior to baiting and compared with sites that weren’t poisoned.” – G. Nugent et al., Kararehe Kino Vertebrate Pest Research, 2008

Because control operations utilising 1080 may induce bait shyness, are only temporarily effective, and often create favourable conditions for noxious animals by reducing competition, and releasing nesting sites and feeding area this Council belives that alternative means of dealing with problem animals should be investigated” – NZ Nature Conservation Council, 1977


 

 1080 can increase predation on birds

“stoats are likely to have the greatest effect on birds after successful 1080 poison operations” – E. Murphy et al., NZ J. Ecology, 1998

“The reduction in rats, the main prey of stoats, may lead to an increase in stoat predations on birds…

 …The abundance of introduced birds is more likely to form the bulk of stoat prey until rats become more plentiful again” – DoC Operational Report, Otira 2011

“A dramatic increase in fledgling mortality has been noted coinciding with a change to the pest control regime…eleven of fourteen fledglings have died. Nine of these were probably (some certainly) killed by stoats…The pest control regime was an aerial 1080 pollard operation in October.” – DoC Rare Bits Newsletter, 2002

“Four months after an effective possum and rat knock-down by a 20,000-ha aerial 1080 operation over Tongariro Forest, stoats reappeared in the centre of the forest and began killing kiwi chicks. So far five of the 11 chicks have been predated, and all in the centre of the treatment area” – DoC Rare Bits Newsletter, 2002

“The interaction between pest species is poorly understood. For example, rodent numbers sometimes increase following possum control operations, which may lead to an increase in stoat populations and a consequent decrease (through predation) of some bird populations… – G. Nugent et al., Kararehe Kino Vertebrate Pest Research, 2008


 

 1080 is being applied again and again in Kea habitat

“Prior to each of the four occasions (2006, 2008, 2009, and 2012) that resource consent needed to be exercised, proposed operations were publicly notified” – DoC Operational Report, Arthurs Pass 2013

“We must effectively control the pests that threaten our forests, but 1080 poison should be a measure of last resort.” – NZ Green Party website, 2014


 

 Killing stoats and possums will not help kea

“Kea nests appear to be relatively immune to predation from introduced mammals…Our results agree with a previous study of kea nesting at Arthur’s Pass, where no evidence of significant nest predation was found (Jackson 1963).” – G. Elliot & J. Kemp, WWF Final Report, 1999

“During the last hundred years Keas have shared their environment with rats Rattus spp. and stoats Mustela erminea. I have found no evidence of these animals affecting Keas…

 “Twice I have found a dead possum Trichosaurus vulpecula within five yards of a Kea nest. The opossum frequently chooses holes similar to a kea nest as a den and perhaps these two opossums prospected the Kea nests.” – J. Jackson, Notornis 16, 1969

 We found 44 nests in 25 sites and were able to assess the nesting success of 40 of them…The only nest failure we can confidently attribute to a specific predator was caused by a stoat”

 G. Elliot & J. Kemp, Department of Conservation Internal Science Series, 2004

(N.b. monitoring nests is likely to attract predators)


IF it was advisable for humans to interfere during a mast year, this could be done WITHOUT aerial 1080 poisoning:

“Several studies on other forest birds have found that trapping can reduce the high predation pressure during stoat irruptions…a very intensive trapping programme significantly reduced stoat predation on breeding mohua during a stoat irruption.” – D. Kelly et al., NZ J. Ecology 2005

“Mustelid tracking rates were again below 5%…highlighting the ability of the form of trapping programme being used to maintain pressure on an invasive predator population” – G. Harper et al., DoC RNRP Annual Report, 2013

 “Surprisingly, the trapping outperformed the poisoning method, reducing rat tracking indices much faster and keeping them at very low levels for longer than the poisoning method.” – DoC Rare Bits Newsletter, 2002


 

Please help save the kea and other precious native creatures from 1080 poison.

“What a poor, curtailed, mutilated sterile world we threaten our descendants with! Man and the rat sharing it – fit mates in many ways – in their desperate, deplorable, gnawing energy, in their ruthless destruction of every obstacle.” – Guthrie-Smith 1936

Cited in D. Towns et al, Biological Invasions, 2006

homepage-link-petition

The Kea, the world’s only mountain parrot, needs your help!

Playing with these big parrots, in car parks and at ski fields, is one of the best experiences NZ has to offer animal lovers. But the kea’s home, the alpine herb fields and rainforests of southern NZ, will be poisoned by the Government very soon:

“In the South Island, 23 pest control operations, covering approximately 700,000 ha of beech forest, are planned for the coming late winter and spring” – National Pest Control Agencies 2014

Cinnamon-flavoured, cereal food pellets will be spread from the air, twice. The first time they will be just flavoured cereal. The second time, they will contain deadly 1080 poison. Kea will eat the cereal baits and die. They will also be poisoned if they drink from ponds and alpine tarns where the baits lie, or scavenge poisoned carcasses or eat the dying insects surrounding the poisonous baits. It was first recognised that the government’s poisonings were killing kea in 1963.

In 2008, government monitoring of the kea began. The monitoring showed that large numbers of kea were dying.

“A total of 150 kea were monitored and 20 keas deaths resulted from consuming 1080…It is also possible that kea deaths were not detected at the other sites due to small sample size.” – DOC Code of Practice for Aerial 1080 in Kea Habitat, 2014

At one site (North Okarito) 77% of the monitored kea died. 1080 poisoning is very cruel. It causes extreme spasms and vomiting, with suffering for many hours or days.

 In 2014, the poisoned baits are to be spread

  • In midwinter (before 31st Aug), when the birds are hungry, and
  • further up the mountains into the alpine herb and tussock fields

“The ‘performance standards to reduce kea deaths’ no longer include a standard to avoid sowing open areas above the tree line…

we are planning to sow 0.15% 1080 Pellets in some open alpine areas to protect rock wren” – DOC Code of Practice for Aerial 1080 in Kea Habitat, 2014

 No bird repellent will be used. No repellent has been successful so far.