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Wild Animals Wrongly Blamed for TB

Wild Animals Wrongly Blamed for TB

Waikato TBFree is wrongly blaming wild animals in a forlorn attempt to justify topdressing countryside with 1080 poison says a national hunting advocacy.

Laurie Collins of the West Coast, convenor of the Sporting Hunters’ Outdoor Trust (SHOT) said the attempt by Waikato TBfree Committee Chairman John Bubb revealed ignorance about Tb testing, wild animals and the history of bovine TB.

Laurie Collins who spent a lifetime from his early career in the 1950s with the NZ Forest Service when 1080 was first introduced and then subsequently through pest board work and private trapping said of the “many thousands” of possums he handled, not one had Tb.

“Some obviously sick possums were sent away for diagnosis but not one had TB,” he said. “Possums suffer highly in wet weather periods contracting pleurisy and pneumonia. Mortality can be as high as 50 percent.”

He said Waikato TBfree spokesman John Bubb seemed unaware that the skin test for stock which formed the bulk of TB testing had a 20 percent error rate.

“That means by simple arithmetic, the probability is one in 10 stock tested, is infected but not identified by skin testing, known as a sleeper. Sleeper animals can then be sold, transported and infect a new herd and area.”

Laurie Collins said last year the Animal Health Board spokesman John Deal admitted potential sources for TB outbreaks included the movement of animals or the possibility that it has been in the herd some time, but not shown up in testing.

“Deal was referring to Taranaki which had several recent TB outbreaks but has no possums,” said Laurie Collins. “So much for the possum TB myth.”

Laurie Collins said New Zealand bovine TB rates were exceptionally low about 40 times less than the UK.

He dismissed John Bubb’s claim that “in TB risk areas, possums cause the majority of new herd infections in farmed cattle and deer.”

“This is absolute nonsense. To the contrary most TB outbreaks can be traced to transport of stock. In a number of cases the authorities knowing this have not prosecuted.”

Laurie Collins cited cases such as King country farmed deer transported to Wairoa introducing the disease to a TB-free region and in Marlborough where cattle transportation introduced the disease to the TB-free Wairau Valley’s Northbank.

“In any case with an error-prone test, TBfree wouldn’t have a clue if disease had come aboard a cattle truck or not.”

Laurie Collins rejected any claims hunters were only concerned about wild deer being poisoned and said hunters did not want silent forests devoid of bird life.

He said the indiscriminate topdressing of thousands of hectares with 1080 and other poisons, had wiped thousands of birds especially species like kea, falcon, morepork, robins, tomtits and others.

“Also 1080 was originally developed in the 1920s as a potent insecticide that happens to kill any and every living creature that comes in contact with it. It kills native bees and worms and insects, the latter often the food of native species such as kiwi, fantails, tomtits and others.”

Laurie Collins said in his work and leisure time over 50 years he had seen numerous examples of “morgue-like” forests after 1080.

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