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Conservation Minister Nick Smith on Thin Ice

Conservation Minister Nick Smith on Thin Ice

Minister of Conservation Nick Smith’s “Battle for the Birds” blitz by topdressing 1080 poison puts his credibility at stake says a hunter’s lobby Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust (SHOT).

“Smith is skating on very thin ice as he’s blindly accepting DOC bureaucrat’s advice all based on the assumption the beech trees will have a super-seeding masting year and a population explosion in rats and mice.”

Laurie Collins said Nick Smith’s assumption flew in the face of historical facts. Beech trees had been seeding for millions of years in two to three year gaps between mast years according to Te Ara. The kiore rat - an adept climber - was introduced over 900 years ago and the Norway ship rat came with Captain Cook.

Beech masting and rats have been in co-existence for almost 1,000 years.

“Bird life was abundant with dawn choruses strong until the late 20th century when the newly formed Department of Conservation began its aerial 1080 onslaught on so called pests,” said Laurie Collins.

As a Forest Service employee Laurie Collins worked with 1080 in the late 1950s when the government poisoned the Caples Valley fallow deer herds and later working for pest boards and local councils.

“To be fair to say, I do understand 1080’s lethal traits. It’s a horrible poison that knows no boundaries,” he said. “Originally developed as an insecticide, 1080’s indiscriminate, killing everything - birds, insects, forest floor invertebrates etc.,”

Increasing its lethal effect is that it has a “secondary poisoning” property where anything scavenging on a poisoned carcass ingests the toxic chemical compound.

“A kea, weka, bush robin, falcon, hawk etc pecking at a 1080 killed carcass, is poisoned too. A tomtit or bush robin eating a 1080 killed insect is poisoned too. Not only that but a "sub-lethal" dose -i.e. not enough poison taken to kill - undermines health and ability to reproduce”.

Laurie Collins said 1080 poison as an insecticide kills the food of birds. Invertebrates (e.g.kiwi, weka food)and insects (e.g. fantail, tomtit etc., food) become toxic and are killed.

“It’s elementary. Destroy the food of birds, and any surviving birds dramatically decline. 1080 creates an ecological desert.”

Laurie Collins said he was amazed to hear Minister Nick Smith reported on TV as saying no bird deaths had occurred from 1080.

“Isn’t he aware at North Okarito on the West Coast, for instance, 80% of banded keas died from 1080? And other studies too?”

Laurie Collins said the cruelty of 1080 also angered him.

“Yes I’m angry about deer cruelly killed. Equally or more so I’m angry about poisoning birds and the forest ecosystem. I’m angry at the ecological carnage, the destruction and the gross misuse of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “Minister Smith’s “Battle For Birds” is based on a wild unscientific assumption. Dangerous stuff!”

It was tragically ironic that a citizen killing one native bird or with a dead 1080 poisoned bird in possession could be up in court. Whereas the department knows it kills birds and can do so without a challenge.

“It’s arguably wilful and intentional. DOC knows it kills birds from research studies, as shonky as some of the paid science studies are,” he said.

His advice for Minister Nick Smith.

“Don’t go by the word of incompetent bureaucrats. Do your homework.”

Otherwise in his opinion, “the TV satire “Yes Minister” is alive and well in Wellington.

Generally unknown was that government had a vested interest in spreading 1080 as the State Owned Enterprise “Animal Control Products Ltd.,” manufactured baits stored and distributed the poison. He said it was a topic that needed good investigative journalism to delve into.


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