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1080 activists should apologise

1080 activists should apologise.

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A seasoned West Coast bird recordist says anti-1080 activists who can’t hear birds need to get out of bed earlier and apologise for misleading the public.

Ian Gill, DOC’s Public Awareness Manager on the Coast, makes electronic gadgets in his spare time and has a passion for recording birds.

On Monday this week he headed to the lower Pell Stream area in the Maruia following up a media claim by anti-1080 activist Laurie Collins who described the upper Pell Stream area as a lifeless green desert.

“I thought I’d better take a look given that Mr Collins made the surprising claim of only seeing two each of tui, bellbirds, kakariki, tomtits and chaffinches over the course of an entire week camped in the bush.”

“I camped at Blackadder Hut next to Pell Stream, got out of the sack at five am, climbed up on the terrace into the 1080 operational area with my DIY bird microphone and made an audio and video recording which would surprise anyone who had read Mr Collins’ account of a 1080-ruined lifeless forest,” Mr Gill said.

“The morning bird song was over by six am, but in just one evening and a morning in the area I managed to encounter: bats, morepork, tui, bellbird, falcon, robin, tomtit, fantail, kakariki, kaka and some little grey things with hardly any tail, not sure what they are.”

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This is not the first time that Mr Gill has checked on anti-1080 media claims about birds with his bird microphone, in fact he’s done it on and off for eight years.

“I’ve found anti-1080 claims about birds to be consistently unsubstantiated and misleading. For instance, the Graf Brother’s claimed in the media last year that 12,000 birds had been killed in the Nelson Lakes area. However, the native birds that were tested didn’t have any trace of 1080 in them.

“The most likely cause of death for the nine birds they handed in was the harsh snow conditions at the time, but the Grafs still made a media splash with a completely unsubstantiated claim fingering 1080 as the cause.

The Grafs later said they were being “tongue in cheek” and making an analogy to what they said was a method used by DOC when they extrapolated their 12,000 dead birds, but that’s not how DOC conducts its monitoring.

“If we were to use the Graf’s method of extrapolation there would currently be at least 6000 kaka and 3600 morepork in this area after the 1080 operation because from my tent site in that forest I saw five kaka and heard three morepork - I’d say the Grafs were wrong.

“In my opinion Mr Collins and the Grafs should fess-up and apologise for misleading and confusing the public about 1080 which is used to protect native birds and forest habitat from introduced rodents, stoats and possums.

“1080 is biodegradable, it does not persist in the environment and claims being made by activists about water contamination are as bogus as the claims they make about bird carnage,” Mr Gill said.

“Next time someone says ‘I’ve been in 1080 areas and the bush is silent’ ask them what time of day they are talking about and what the weather was like, because the odds are that they weren’t up before first light on a fine summer morning.

Last month Mr Gill posted YouTube videos of dawn bird song at Lake Daniels before last month’s 1080 operation in the Maruia and again at the same site 10-days after it.

“The birds are doing just fine in the 1080 operational area, and they’ll do even better now that the rodent explosion in the Maruia has been nailed,” he said.

DOC has more than 80 bird monitoring sites in the Maruia forests to monitor long-term trends over the next four to five years.

Background information:

Birds before the Maruia drop:
After the Maruia drop:

1080 Poison – Grafs Wrong:


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