Scare-mongering Over Pests Defies Basic Science
Cries that coronavirus lockdown was interfering with “essential pest control” were scare-mongering not unlike supermarket panic buying says a hunting organisation the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust.
The comment was in response to an Auckland University conservation biologist Dr James Russell who said autumn was a crucial time for pest control and if the lockdown was extended, pest control needed to be reclassified as an essential service.
But Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust spokesman Laurie Collins of the West Coast said Dr Russell’s comment was contrary to research which showed after 1080 poison drops, surviving rats bounced back with plentiful food per mouth and exploded in numbers within three years to over three times original numbers. Subsequently with rats everywhere , stoats preying on the rodents, increased dramatically too.
“The research is well documented - Ruscoe 2007. In essence 1080 poison drops are stimulating population plagues from rats a rodent capable of extraordinary birth rates,” he said.
Laurie Collins who during his working career worked on the first 1080 trials in Wakatipu’s Greenstone River catchment and in “pest” work subsequently as well spending life time enjoying wilderness recreation, said the reality was different to the Auckland university academic’s opinion.
“Indeed, lack of pest control for a couple of years might reveal there is no problem after all and nature can sort itself out without interference,” he said.
He said rodents i.e. rats and mice were introduced as far back as about 1350 by Polynesian migrants and then sealers and whalers in the 18th centuries. Within a few decades nature had instilled a predator-prey balance and throughout his working career in the hills, bird life was healthy with predators present. Soon after the Department of Conservation’s formation in 1987 the 1080 programme swung into full pace and accelerated under National’s Conservation minister Nick Smith’s ministerial terms and current minister, Forest and Bird member Eugene Sage.
“All Smith and Sage have achieved is ecological mayhem as rat numbers soared after 1080 drops, throwing the food chain and predator-prey relationships into disarray,” said Laurie Collins. “The 2007 research is there for them to study.”
Apart from 1080 spectacularly leading to increased bird predator numbers, the effects of 1080 - registered as an insecticide - were to destroy insect numbers vital food for insectivorous birds and to directly kill birds such as robins, tomtits, kea and others.
While it was not unexpected politicians might be ignorant, Laurie Collins was surprised Dr Russell seemed unaware of the consequences of ‘ecological interference and disruption” by indiscriminate mega-poison drops.