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OSPRI 1080 Deer Repellent Trial Fails Conservation

OSPRI a part government funded agency which aims to eradicate bovine Tb is planning to test a new deer repellent in south Marlborough by comparing wild deer by-kills between the new additive with normal 1080 baits. But the plan falls short of important conservation needs says the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Advocacy (SHOA).

The Marlborough branch of NZDA has welcomed the trial with president Wayne Smith saying “if they (OSPRI) come up with a deer repellent system, it would be a very good thing.”

But Lewis Hore of Oamaru, spokesman for SHOA, said that was a very narrow viewpoint that “failed conservation.” He said OSPRI and Marlborough NZ Deerstalkers branch president should be concerned about the by-kill on other wildlife such as invertebrate insects and birds.

“It's the total wildlife by-kill that should be assessed,” said Lewis Hore. “Many hunters care about the total ecosystem from birds to insects and of course deer. 1080 kills all three - deer, birds and insects."

Invertebrates such as insects and worms were vital for pollination and food sources for birds such as kiwi, robins, fantails and others. “It’s logical since 1080 was first developed in 1927 as an insecticide,” he explained. “The by-kill of birds is already well known with species like kea now endangered from 1080. The proof of bird by-kill is also shown by high country game birds such as chukar (Himalayan partridge) and quail suffering heavy losses through widespread 1080 drops. I would expectFish and Game to be very concerned about that. Then there is the by-kill on birds such as keas, falcons, skylarks, bush robins and others.”

SHOA’s Lewis Hore questioned why OSPRI was dropping 1080 when possums were now recognised as not a carrier of Tb. In 2016 in Parliament the National government’s Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy said of 9830 possums autopsied none were bovine TB infected.

Molesworth’s open terrain was not good possum habitat and almost certainly possum numbers were low. The bovine Tb regime needed close scrutiny.

“Reportedly OSPRI uses the old TB skin test on cattle which has a 25% error rate. Consequently animals infected can test clear and remain in the herd as “sleeper animals", thus being a reservoir for infection of stock with below par immune systems," he said.

DOC had the right to stop OSPRI’s 1080 drops damaging the ecosystem.

“And also stop the wasting of public money that funds OSPRi ,” he said. “Besides DOC manages the publicly-owned Molesworth Station which was the only bovine Tb infected farm in Marlborough.”

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