Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Te Runanga o Makaawhio say no to 1080

The issue of possums and 1080 is a big one. There are arguments on both sides of the debate which deserve consideration. Possums have to go - no doubt about that. Te Runanga o Makaawhio are saying no to 1080 in their rohe.

From The Dominion Post
"Te Runanga o Makaawhio deputy chairman Terry Scott said yesterday that the Bruce Bay hapu of Ngai Tahu had never been happy with the toxin and the runanga had now ruled it would no longer agree to its use. Some drops had already been signed off, however, including the biggest yet, planned for this winter to cover from Hokitika to Whataroa."
Mr Scott said Makaawhio realised there had to be some form of possum control and previously signed its consent as an affected party, while imposing conditions on where 1080 should be dropped.
"One of the problems is, there has been no ongoing research into alternatives. For more than 50 years, constantly the response from politicians was, `we are working on it'. That's a very easy answer. We don't want the poison on our land."
Yes where are the alternatives?

I agree with Makaawhio - poisoning the land is just not the answer.


Mike said...

Hi Marty. I've been trying to figure out the 1080 thing again recently (though so far not in much detail). I had a flip through the Stop 1080 Website, where the main claims seem to be that 1080 kills birds (and makes forests quiet), and that it doesn't break down as safely as scientists claim. I'm inclined to go with DoC and the quoted scientists for now on the latter. As best as I can tell from other sources (like F&B), methods of laying and manufacturing 1080 are constantly improving to avoid the wrong birds/animals from eating it... so I have no idea if the claims of quiet forests are still relevant, except for edge cases that received high publicity like the 7 Kea that ate it last year. (I haven't been through a recently-1080'd forest lately which I've noticed to be especially quiet, but I think they're planning to do the Tararuas again soon so I'll keep an ear open.)

I think the problem is that we're basically screwed whichever way. The possum's out of the bag and it's running rampant, killing native habitats far more horribly than I think 1080 seems to be. The eco-system is completely out of balance, and the only reason we're not seeing this everywhere is because there's already such an expensive and sustained effort to control pests, a major part of which is recurring 1080 drops. There is no perfect solution, and there's not exactly time to wait around until there is. I still haven't seen any reasonable alternative proposal to deal with possums and stoats in back-country areas which aren't practical to reach for trapping operations.

But I agree with your point to an extent, it'd be nice to see some better funded and better publicised science about possible alternatives so that there are viable alternatives (even if they're shown to be less useful), or otherwise some good clear journalism around 1080 issues, which is a general problem because our media doesn't do science very well. There's a lot of information out there, and as with many things it looks as if our media's taken the role of broadcasting the claims of people with predefined interests rather than investigating for itself, which is a shame.

It's just my thoughts in any case. Personally I'm hanging out for a fanciful super-virus that'll target and wipe out all the rats and rabbits and possums and stoats without touching anything else, but the rational part of my mind says this would be recklessly dangerous and irresponsible, and probably wouldn't work long term anyway.

Marty Mars said...

Kia ora mike

Yes it is a very tricky one. The possums have to go and we have to get rid of them but i just cannot get my head around indiscriminate poisoning as the solution. It seems to fit within the 'protect the village by destroying the village' mentality.

And i don't hate possums - they are quite nice creatures, it is not their fault that they were introduced - but we have to protect our endemic flora and fauna as first priority.

These super-viruses freak me out - the rabbit one worked for a while, but resistant rabbits are there now and I struggle with watching animals dying slowly with no dignity - it diminishes us.

very tough issue

Mike said...

Hi Marty. I guess part of the problem I'm having is that I'm not convinced it is indiscriminate poisoning, or at least from what I can tell it seems to be more discriminate than it used to be as the techniques get better and as mistakes are learned from.

I see comments from people about how the bush is quiet after 1080 drops, but frequently when I go out into the bush I'd describe it as quiet anyway. Birds tend to make lots of noise in early morning, in the evening, and sometimes once it's stopped raining, and even then it's necessary to be in the right place.

Perhaps lots of birds still are being killed indiscriminately, but I can't see how to know that for sure from the info presented. The media typically presents this topic in a he-said-she-said way with people of preconceived motives on both sides, which doesn't do much to help anyone trying to understand the issue (but does lots to bolster opinions of anyone who's already taken a side).

But yes, very tough issue. I have to admit that I do feel bad for possums to an extent, it's not their fault they're here as you've said. But then I just look at what they do to the environment and to everything else that tries to inhabit it, and I can't see any other realistic way out of this. If I see a possum run over on the road these days I feel very little remorse because to me, it means something else has probably survived longer than it otherwise would have.

MikeM said...

Personally I'm hanging out for a fanciful super-virus that'll target and wipe out all the rats and rabbits and possums and stoats without touching anything else, but the rational part of my mind says this would be recklessly dangerous and irresponsible

And this might be the start of it, although not a super-bug so much as engineered bait:

"Landcare Research has applied for funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to use genome mining to identify exactly how the toxin works because understanding this could result in toxins specific to other introduced predators such as stoats and possums."