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Go into a 1080-poisoned forest, see for yourself

Opinion Piece
Letter

With regard to Grant Vincent’s comments on the benefits of 1080 poison. As a logging contractor and bushman for the past 35 years, I have seen my fair share of 1080 poison drops. Every year parts of the forest estate where I worked were systematically poisoned every three years.

In my experience this creates very low bird numbers, especially predatory birds like the falcon, morepork, weka and hawk. All these birds I have found poisoned after a 1080 poison drop.

1080 poison was first developed as an insecticide, so what effect does this have on the forest ecosystem as a whole? And then there’s the effect on poisoning our waterways which run down to our coastline.

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, TBfree and many regional councils backed by Forest and Bird support the aerial use of 1080 poison which indiscriminately kills all creatures that breathe oxygen through a slow, painful death that can take some animals days.

Then there is the crusade to have New Zealand pest-free by 2050, which includes deer and pigs. If you hunt wild game to feed your family, as most of my workers do, be concerned as this will affect you!

As I have always said to people who ask me about the effects of 1080 poison — go into a forest which has been poisoned by 1080 and see for yourself. Listen if you can hear any birds, and you will notice the smell of death.

Mark Nyhoff

Pakiri Logging

Footnote response from Grant Vincent, Forest & Bird Gisborne branch chairman:

A bit more detail Mark, please, so we can have a more focused debate on 1080, introduced pests and indigenous ecosystems.

Which forests? What years? How many of the birds were sent for testing to see if death was caused by 1080? Were bird numbers already low because of 150-plus years of predation by possums, rats, stoats, cats etc?

In the 1970s and ’80s there were instances of bird deaths (for example at Pureora) because of poor-quality carrot baits. But, with vastly improved techniques since then — with cereal baits — well over 90 percent of the target pest species are killed (perhaps that’s where your “. . . smell of death” was coming from?), resulting in increased numbers of bird and invertebrate species and more forest growth. Once the pests stop eating birds, eggs, chicks, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and invertebrates, forest ecosystems recover.

1080 does not bioaccumulate. In water, studies have shown no detrimental effects — our waterways are not poisoned by 1080 in the few cereal baits that fall in them.

I think you’ll find that “Predator Free 2050” does not include deer or pigs, and that there are still plenty of them to go around.

There are more questions and answers but that will have to do for now.