Paste the way to go

LETTER

Good news for local Forest and Bird branch chairman Grant Vincent (August 28 letter) — Utopia is actually here. It is possible for the Government to up conservation funding right now.

The Public Finance Act’s 2002 amendments allow the Finance Minister to source credits from our Reserve Bank if thought to be for the public good. Sadly, none of the MPs currently in Parliament want to look at this legislation. They believe the myth that we must pay tribute (interest) to the private owners of public debt every time local and central government wants to launch a project aimed at providing social or environmental needs — a myth decried by two prime ministers, namely Richard John Seddon and Michael Joseph Savage.

As a former employee of the Forest Service I learned to appreciate the difference between indiscriminate aerial drops and targeted use of biocides. For example, a 1080 paste was used successfully on Fiordland’s Secretary Island back in the 1980s. Applied to foliage at the browse line, the foresters were able to keep deer which swam across from the mainland at very low numbers, thus keeping the island in an almost pristine state. Also, scores of trappers came from far and wide to lay cyanide trails in the state forests, possum skins being at a premium.

Both Forest and Bird and the Department of Conservation would surely welcome more funds to pay workers. Then the use of 1080 could be greatly reduced and hopefully scrapped.

Heather Marion Smith

Good news for local Forest and Bird branch chairman Grant Vincent (August 28 letter) — Utopia is actually here. It is possible for the Government to up conservation funding right now.

The Public Finance Act’s 2002 amendments allow the Finance Minister to source credits from our Reserve Bank if thought to be for the public good. Sadly, none of the MPs currently in Parliament want to look at this legislation. They believe the myth that we must pay tribute (interest) to the private owners of public debt every time local and central government wants to launch a project aimed at providing social or environmental needs — a myth decried by two prime ministers, namely Richard John Seddon and Michael Joseph Savage.

As a former employee of the Forest Service I learned to appreciate the difference between indiscriminate aerial drops and targeted use of biocides. For example, a 1080 paste was used successfully on Fiordland’s Secretary Island back in the 1980s. Applied to foliage at the browse line, the foresters were able to keep deer which swam across from the mainland at very low numbers, thus keeping the island in an almost pristine state. Also, scores of trappers came from far and wide to lay cyanide trails in the state forests, possum skins being at a premium.

Both Forest and Bird and the Department of Conservation would surely welcome more funds to pay workers. Then the use of 1080 could be greatly reduced and hopefully scrapped.

Heather Marion Smith

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Mathew Bannister - 2 months ago
The heart of the issue is that of cost versus benefit. Large-scale air drops of toxic agents appear to be more cost-effective than the alternative.
As a taxpayer I know that I must contribute a portion of my earnings into our health services, education, military, government administration, police, justice, corrections, retirement, arts, archives, civil defence, conservation, Treaty settlements (although I am a beneficiary of those as my iwi has settled), child protection, elder care etc.
As a local taxpayer I place part of my earnings into this community for roading, water supplies, wastewater services, rubbish, library and cultural pursuits, conservation, pest control, dog management, resource management etc.
While we can debate the ethics as much as we want, we are not addressing the cost.
Until as a community/society we commit to shouldering the additional cost-burden of a mixed campaign of pest eradication then the debate will remain unresolved.
Perhaps a note to those that support great international lobby groups overseas (Greenpeace, PETA, SAFE, etc) that perhaps a voluntary contribution into private pest control can make a real difference here in NZ. After all, no need to drop poison into areas where pests are controlled by other means.

Baz Davies - 2 months ago
Dear Sir.
There's been a bit of discussion in the letter section about 1080 poison lately.
Some people think that 1080 will restore our indigenous species back to the avian utopia that was NZ, before European settlement and the introduction of feral species.
It would be great if it could but sadly 1080 is only a control method that has been used for the past 60 years to temporarily reduce populations of feral species. As a general rule, 1080 has to be re-applied 3 to 5 years after drops.
In my opinion the greatest threat to our native birdlife is the mustelid family, rats, mice and wild cats.
Rats, mice and possums will readily eat cereal-based 1080 pellets but weasels, stoats and ferrets do not. They will die from secondary poisoning after eating poisoned carcasses, but generally they prefer to kill their own food.
All of the mustelid family cover huge areas of territory. A radio-tagged stoat was recorded as covering 25kms in two weeks. This would mean that these animals could well move into poisoned areas from outside of the 1080 zone. And if the rat and mice populations were greatly reduced by poison this would leave birds as the main target.
1080 has been used to control the risk of TB in possums. The obvious solution for this problem is to manage forest fringes. Bait stations could be used in these easily accessed areas, that specifically control the target species.
No doubt it would be a source of employment for keen, outdoor types.
The only places that are predator-free in NZ are offshore islands, enclosed sanctuaries and fenced habitats.
Most of the forests in NZ have high populations of these destructive killers. The amount of wild cats in the bush is also surprising.
The use of 1080 could be compared to using a bandaid on a bleeding sore. It stems the flow a little but the host is slowly bleeding to death.
Hopefully technology may provide a better answer, but in the meantime what could we use if 1080 was banned?
Baz Davies.

Grant Vincent, Forest and Bird Gisborne branch chairman - 2 months ago
Unfortunately the use of 1080 paste to control deer on the 8140ha Secretary Island was not successful for various reasons.
In January 2006 a report was published by the Department of Conservation "Secretary Island Deer Eradication Scoping Document".
"Control measures were implemented between 1970 and 1987 but were never intensive enough or applied widely enough over the island to have a major impact on the total population. Methods included aerial helicopter shooting, ground hunting, snaring, a capture pen and 1080 gel baiting of palatable plants.
"Until around 1960, Secretary Island was one of the few places in NZ that remained free of the influence of any introduced grazing or browsing mammal.
"By 1975 the recently arrived but rapidly expanding deer population had already caused major damage to vegetation and soils ...
"The small five finger tree ... formed most of the sub-canopy layer ... but deer "essentially eliminated this layer". (Mark and Bayliss 1982) ... this species in the sub-canopy is virtually undetectable now.
"The track system was incomplete ... large areas of the island were in effect inaccessible to ground staff hence little or no control occurred in such areas."
Broadleaf, kamahi and mahoe were also depleted, so while the island may have seemed to be in a pristine state when deer control commenced, it wasn't.
1080 gel on leaves can reduce deer numbers and deer do prefer certain palatable plants, but not all deer eat all of these preferred plants all of the time - hence the need for a combination of methods if pest control and ecological restoration is solely ground-based.
While Forest and Bird acknowledges the importance of ground-based pest control, in many areas of our country comprehensive and successful pest control can only be achieved with use of aerial 1080. Many kilometres of tracks usually need to be cut for practical ground control coverage and on Secretary Island, for example, some parts are just too rugged for this.
And yes, Forest and Bird does welcome more funding for DoC workers for all of the department's work.