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Campaign leaflet undermines kiwi protection

7 September 2005 - Wellington

Forest and Bird Media release for immediate use

Campaign leaflet undermines kiwi protection

Forest and Bird is warning that false claims in an election campaign leaflet by the Exclusive Brethren could undermine public confidence in efforts to save kiwi and other native birds from extinction.

“We are keen to see debate on conservation issues at this election, but we want the debate to be based on facts, not myths and distortions,” said Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“The false criticism of 1080 in this leaflet was highly irresponsible. It is likely to undermine public confidence in one of the most critical ways of controlling pests that kill kiwi and other native birds,” he said.

“This leaflet repeats the myth that 1080 is the cause of ‘silent forests.’ Pests are the real culprit. The birds are coming back throughout New Zealand wherever regular 1080 operations are keeping pests in check,” he said.

“In September 2001, a large area of Tongariro Forest was subject to a 1080 operation. 32 kiwi were radio tagged. All birds were still alive six months after the operation, long after the 1080 would have decomposed. Eleven kiwi chicks were born to radio tagged birds. Six were killed by stoats. Five have survived. Usually only one kiwi chick in twenty survives. Pest control with 1080 makes a fantastic difference,” he said.

The leaflet was also wrong to imply that DOC is wasting resources. DOC has had to cut back on programmes to fund the Operation Ark emergency response and laid off staff because of a budget squeeze. DOC is a very lean government department and needs more resources to do the job New Zealanders want it to do,” he said.

“DOC’s funding is so tight that Forest and Bird’s South Otago and Southland branches paid for stoat traps for DOC to enable threatened mohua (yellowhead) to be protected from pests in the Catlins as part of Operation Ark,” he said.

“Forest and Bird, Greenpeace and ECO asked the political parties where they stand on 59 environmental policies, including commitments to increase the Department of Conservation’s funding and create more marine reserves. We asked the political parties to tell us what policies they would commit to,” he said.

“Overall, the Greens scored the highest, followed by the Maori Party, Progressives, Labour, New Zealand First, United Future, National with ACT coming last. However, the Maori Party scored poorly on marine reserves, high country parks and support for DOC,” he said.

ENDS

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