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MP’s Action Gets Results Over Botched 1080 Drop

MP’s Action Gets Results Over Botched 1080 Drop

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One of several highly trained Polo-cross horses recently sickened and killed by wholesale aerial application of 1080 baits by EPRO LTD, contracted by Environment Waikato (Waikato regional Council) on behalf of AHB (Animal Health Board) and sanctioned by the NZ Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA).

Gordon Copeland Press Release
For Immediate Release
Thursday, 13th December 2007


An MP’s involvement in a controversial aerial 1080 poison drop has yielded dividends.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland last week approached SPCA about the plight of central North Island horse owners who, along with Rangipo Prison’s water supply, fell victim to a botched Environment Waikato (EW) helicopter 1080 poison drop. Several horses succumbed to agonising deaths while others suffered excruciating illness from the controversial Opossum control method.

EW bio security group manager John Simmons was denying they were responsible and refuted any suggestion the drop had gone wrong.

The November incident seemed to languish as minor news until Mr Copeland emailed SPCA’s Bob Kerridge who referred it to chief executive Robin Kippenberger.

Mr Copeland said he was very pleased that SPCA followed up on his approach to them. “Agencies such as SPCA need to be proactive in such a serious incident as this. Their response is exactly what’s needed.”

That response saw Truth newspaper go front page lead with their follow-up investigative story last week. Truth exposed holes in Environment Waikato’s media releases that said the entire matter was the fault of the horse owners! Blaming the farmers, Mr Simmons said, "this is an unfortunate example of human error leading to the deaths of animals belonging to the person who committed the error." EW blamed the farmers for not moving their horses from the drop zone but Mr Copeland said the EW position appeared to be untenable. “When you read their (EW’s) press releases and the investigation by Truth’s journalist Frank Henry, a more accurate picture emerges.”

It was also alleged that the Rangipo Prison water supply was affected by the deadly poison drop. “That begs the question, did they get it wrong too,” asks Mr Copeland. However EW’s John Simmons said the water was never affected, that it was only a rumour. He said they had the helicopter flight path records to prove there was never an accidental drop into the stream. “The stream that runs through there was an exclusion zone,” he said.

Mr Copeland referred to statements by EW’s contractor EPRO who carried out the drop. Their managing director Roger Lorigan told Truth there had been a “breakdown in communication” internally among his workers. Mr Lorigan went further admitting “that more communication should have been there.”

In another development, during a recent interview with a researcher working for Mr Copeland, Mr Simmons said it was the responsibility of a Mr Willie Marshal, one of the horse owners, to relocate the horses to a safe area. However when questioned further, Mr Simmons admitted Mr Marshal was an EPRO employee. Mr Simmons was then asked if that meant EPRO had made a mistake in that part of the operation. Mr Simmons said, “They could well have done, that’s why I’m getting it investigated.” EW had also issued another statement clarifying any assertion the horse owners were to blame. Mr Simmons said they had never intended to infer that all the owners were to blame for the poisoned horses.

Mr Copeland said he had watched camera footage of animals dying from 1080 poison. “If the public of New Zealand were to see for themselves the ghastly manner in which creatures succumb to this hideous poison, I think government agencies would be forced stop its use.”

“In August the Environmental Research Management Authority (ERMA) called on the Government to undertake more research into alternative methods of possum control and in the meantime promised tighter controls.”

“They need to investigate this incident as a matter of urgency. Where were the controls?”


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