Friday, October 30, 2009

muttonbirds and fur seals - do the study before you start killing

Okay on this one we just need to get the study done, because i suspect the results may be surprising. This is also another example of working out what exactly is the problem before rushing too fast into solutions.
"The proliferation of seals on the Mutton Bird Islands may prompt southern Maori to investigate culling the mammals, which have been protected for more than a century.
Fur seals were hunted to the brink of extinction by early settlers, but the population of mammals had increased markedly since granted full protection in 1894.

Conversely, their numbers were now affecting mutton birds, an important source of food and income for a small group of southern Maori who have exclusive harvesting rights on the 36 islands making up the Mutton Bird Islands, around Stewart Island."
I think the study will determine whether the numbers are affecting the titi or if other factors come into it. The relationship between the seals and birds is complicated and cannot be understood, or have a solution designed, without considering as many interrelated factors as possible. otherwise a solution can turn into a bigger problem - anyone remember ferrets and stoats? Bought in to fix the rabbit problem... luckily they didn't bring in foxes to get the ferrets and stoats!

Footnote - anon raised a good point in the comments about acknowledging the kaitiaki of the islands and the good work that has been done and continues to be done. Thank you for all your mahi and aroha. You have kept our ancient tradition alive, you have protected the islands and the titi, you have taught your children as you were taught. Sorry for not saying that in my initial post.


Anonymous said...

Give credit to the kaitiaki of the islands. The seals congregate there because other places have been made unsafe for them. The solution might be as simple as making the islands less attractive for them and other places more attractive.

The titi islands should not be used as a conservation / political football because seals look cute. Some of our other rarest and most endangered species (flora and fauna) have survived on the titi islands because of the work of our people. Seals are not rare or endangered but some of the plant life they destroy is only found on those islands.

So deep breaths - and don't let the emotional kneejerk green lobby make our people the scapegoats for the sins of all the others.

Marty Mars said...

Good points anon and i agree with you. You are right in what you are saying.

I thank and respect the kaitiaki of the islands for everything they have done and are doing.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for the seals that have been on those islands before any humans arrived and i feel sorry for the mutton birds that are ripped from the nest at a young age and killed. Why dont you all fuck off those islands and let these animals live in peace and quiet.

Anonymous said...

i am assuming anonymous may 12 is a buddist vegan who lives in a mud hut, uses no electricity and walks every where.

the fur seals are only growing in number because the islands have no people there most of the year. they are doing a great deal of damage to some rare and sometimes endangered plants and eventually if left unchecked would destroy the burrows of thousands of muttonbirds so that on some of the smaller islands they could become a rarity.

I get that some people are philospohically opposed to killing animals for food - but the majority of us are not. At least the muttonbirders don't rely on some distant impersonal factory to deliver the harvest - they must kill each and everyone themselves.

Anonymous said...

ha ha whatever mate. Just because i am against killing animals does not make me a vegan hippy. Thats a bit narrow minded dont you think? I do eat meat and i know where it comes from. As for the numbers in fur seals increasing and destroying mutton bird burrows, i recon that thats bullshit and the only thing destroying flora and fauna and burrows on those Islands are the people tramping all over them when its mutton bird murdering season.As for 'some people' being opposed to killing animals i think you would find that the majority of people dont like big corporate companies from over seas mass producing meat and veg to stick on the plate. Why would you want to eat pork from China when you can buy it in good ol N.Z. I know that there is a minority of people that dont give a shit, are you in that minority? Better watch it or the big companies might get wind of the mutton bird and then those cute little Islands will be totally fucked.Its already happening in Tasmania.

Anonymous said...

well mate

i do in fact care where my food comes from and i check labels to avoid imported food etc where possible - i buy free range eggs and pork and try to buy locally and organic.

i have been to the islands although i do not bird myself nor do i want to - but it is a strong part of my heritage and my identity and i happen to know your assertions that the people who are birding down there are damaging the islands is a load of crock. the sustainabilty of the harvest depends on maintaining the manu and people who transgress and cause harm are sent from the islands and banned by their own folks.

so i have seen the damage seals do first hand and i have seen the way families care for their own islands. it is no accident that lots of endangered species have only survived to this day because of the whanau of the titi islands and the work they have put in to protect those islands and the natural ecology of the islands

there is and has been no suggestion that the seals are to be controlled by killing them - that is the sort of thing ex all blacks do for sport as well as fishermen who blame the seals for decreasing fish numbers