Tuesday, September 22, 2009

traces of rat poison found in dead penguins

It is a paradox - we want to save species so we poison their predators - which ends up killing the species we were trying to protect.

"Traces of the rat poison, Brodifacoum, have been found in two little blue penguins that died in the Hauraki Gulf, a month after the Department of Conservation dropped the poison on Rangitoto and Motutapu islands.

The deaths of several seemingly healthy and well-fed common dolphins remain unexplained, after tests on their livers and stomach contents showed no traces of either Brodifacoum or tetrotodoxin - the toxin found found to have killed five dogs in July and August.

Mr Griffiths said the penguin finding was unexpected.

"It is a surprise because we've never had penguins dying at the same time as pest eradication [operations] before, so we've never had reason to test them."

The three aerial drops of 147 tonnes of poison-laced cereal bait - the last on August 7 - were part of a project to create a sanctuary for rare birds.

Mr Griffiths said it was possible they ate pellets out of desperation.

"We don't have any idea about how they might have come across Brodifacoum, but I guess it is important to note that they were hungry - they were starving penguins - so they may have eaten a bait."

A summary Mr Griffiths wrote ahead of the drops said that a maximum of 1288kg of bait would fall into the ocean around the joined islands' 56km coastline.

That was much less than the 18,000kg of Brodifacoum-laced baits that spilled into the sea near Kaikoura after a truck crash in 2001 - which contaminated shellfish within a wide area."

Well we can be thankful for small mercies I spose.
Do you really think we can kill to save?

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