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Animal Health Board launches appeal to stop 1080 ignorance

1 August 2011

Animal Health Board launches appeal to stop the ignorance about 1080 poison

The Animal Health Board (AHB) has launched an online appeal encouraging the public to ‘find out the facts first’ in a bid to counteract the spread of misinformation about the use 1080 poison in New Zealand.

“Public petition sites like Care2 are a valuable forum for raising awareness about a range of issues,” said AHB Communications Manager John Deal.

“Unfortunately, they are also easily co-opted by people who set out to deliberately mislead the public by posting a range of unsubstantiated claims.”

A classic example of the tactics opponents of 1080 will resort to is a recent petition posted on Care2. It makes a string of highly emotive claims including:

• “Nazis used 1080 to kill millions of Jews during the war”
• “New Zealand is the only country in the world that uses 1080”
• “1080 is killing our native kiwi”.

Even the briefest of online searches will easily disprove these so-called ‘facts’. Unfortunately it’s not something all petition signatories will take the time to do.

“People genuinely interested in finding out more about 1080 are struggling to find factual, science-based information in amongst all the hyperbole, rhetoric and deliberate misinformation out there,” said Mr Deal.

The Animal Health Board has created its own Care2 petition “Stop the ignorance about 1080 poison and save New Zealand’s native wildlife”.

“The idea is to provide objective information to anyone thinking about signing a ‘stop 1080’ petition to take a few minutes to research how and why the poison is used first,” said Mr Deal.

Evidence that 1080 is both safe and necessary, backed up by peer-reviewed scientific research can be found online. A good starting point is the 1080: The Facts website a joint public education initiative set up by Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers to ensure the public have easy access to balanced, factual information about 1080. The Animal Health Board website and Department of Conservation website also have a large amount of scientifically-backed information.

Additional information: Why the Animal Health Board uses 1080
• The Animal Health Board (AHB) is an incorporated society, legally responsible for managing and implementing the National Pest Management Strategy (NPMS) for bovine tuberculosis (TB) in New Zealand. Its powers derive from the Biosecurity Act 1993.
• The mission of the Animal Health Board is to eradicate bovine TB from New Zealand.
• The AHB has a three-pronged approach to TB disease management:
o Disease control – aiming to control and contain the spread of the disease within cattle and deer herds
o Movement control – controlling the spread of the disease between herds
o Vector control – aiming to control and contain the wild animal species mostly responsible for spreading the disease to cattle and deer.
• In New Zealand, the brush-tailed possum (a non-native species introduced in the nineteenth century from Australia for its fur and released into the wild) is recognised as the main cause of TB infection in cattle and deer herds.
• Possums are highly susceptible to bovine TB. Because the disease is spread by close contact between animals, possums can maintain the disease in the wild due to their high population density and the amount of social interaction between individuals.
• Control of the possum population is the key to the AHB’s management of TB infection. Keeping possum numbers low has been shown to reduce the incidence of TB infection in cattle and deer herds.
• In 1994 at the peak of the TB crisis in New Zealand there were more than 1700 infected herds.
• As at June 2011, there were 77 infected cattle herds and four infected deer herds.
• A variety of techniques are used in possum control programmes, including the aerial application of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) baits, ground application of poisons, and trapping. The choice of technique depends on a wide range of factors, including cost-effectiveness, terrain, and environmental considerations.
• Where terrain is difficult to access, aerial application of 1080 has been found to be extremely effective in quickly reducing possum population numbers.
• Ground control methods, using either traps or poisons, are the most commonly-used techniques.
• On average, in any one year, 80 per cent of control operations are ground-based and only around 20 per cent rely on aerial 1080.
• The AHB’s use of 1080 is subject to strict regulation and control by a range of agencies including the Ministry of Health.
• The use of sophisticated GPS technology helps to ensure that aerial bait drops avoid specified water catchments and other excluded areas.
• The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment released an independent, comprehensive review of the use of 1080 in New Zealand in June 2011. The report found that 1080 was the best tool in New Zealand to control predatory pests such as possums and subsequently protect the dairy, beef and deer industries. It was also found to have widespread conservation benefits for native birds and forests.

ENDS

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