Small group protests against 1080

Coastal News - - News - By ALI­SON SMITH

A small group of about 30 pro­test­ers met in Tairua on Satur­day as peo­ple gath­ered around the coun­try to demon­strate against the use of 1080 poi­son in New Zealand.

The Ban 1080 Party says around 44 protests were held around the coun­try, in­clud­ing thou­sands of plac­ard-bear­ing pro­test­ers at the largest march in Welling­ton.

How­ever on the Coro­man­del, it was a much smaller but equally di­verse group — in­clud­ing el­derly, school kids, life­style block own­ers, dairy farm own­ers, hunters and their dogs who all turned out at the Tairua Hall carpark with the mes­sage ‘ban 1080’.

Dairy farm owner Suzie Fisher says she or­gan­ised the event as part of the na­tional protest day as a way for those who are against 1080 use to meet one an­other. She says it was not aimed at leg­is­la­tors or the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion.

“It was peace­ful, we didn’t want any trou­ble, but it was a place for us to come to­gether and show where we stand on the is­sue.

“I own a medium-sized dairy farm and want our kids to grow up in an en­vi­ron­ment where it’s safe and clean. I feel that the aerial drop­ping of poi­son is quite reck­less,” she says.

Sarah Rodgers, who brought her chil­dren to join in the protest, says she’s glad she joined in.

“Heaps of peo­ple were toot­ing as they drove past and we took that as sup­port for the cause. There were older peo­ple there who had protested against us­ing 1080 50 years ago, and they’re still try­ing to get rid of it. It was cool to be there. I just hate the stuff. I think it’s just a hor­ri­ble way for an­i­mals to die.”

Fel­low an­i­mal lovers who turned up also spoke about their main ob­jec­tion to the use of 1080 as a cruel way for an­i­mals to die. They ques­tioned why al­ter­na­tives such as sub­si­dis­ing and up­skilling a lo­cal in­dus­try in pos­sum fur wasn’t be­ing backed by Govern­ment.

“I don’t know why the govern­ment doesn’t cre­ate a culling pro­gramme and pay peo­ple for the pest col­lec­tion, be­cause this would be a win-win for everyone,” said one pro­tester who asked not be named.

An­i­mal ad­vo­cacy group SAFE is calling on the govern­ment to pri­ori­tise fund­ing for re­search into hu­mane al­ter­na­tives to 1080, say­ing 1080 causes a slow and tor­tur­ous death, and can take up to 18 hours to kill.

“1080 in­flicts a cruel, slow death on an­i­mals — both tar­geted, and non­tar­geted species,” says SAFE am­bas­sador, Hans Kriek. The group says 1080 is banned in Brazil, Belize, Cuba, Laos, Slove­nia and Thai­land, and sev­eral states in Amer­ica, and 80 per cent of the world’s 1080 is dropped in New Zealand.

“Not only is 1080 cruel, but it’s also in­ef­fec­tive. We’ve been drop­ping the poi­son for over 60 years and it hasn’t solved the prob­lem. Fur­ther re­search into al­ter­na­tives will help us explore more hu­mane so­lu­tions, but also more ef­fec­tive ones.”

DOC says the com­bined agen­cies of DOC, OSPRI (Tbfree NZ), Fed­er­ated Farm­ers, For­est & Bird and WWF-NZ all agree that 1080 is an ef­fec­tive, safe and valu­able tool in the fight to pro­tect New Zealand’s forests and na­tive birds, bats, in­sects and lizards. It says about 80 per cent of New Zealand’s bird species are at risk of ex­tinc­tion.

Mon­i­tor­ing data show that aerial 1080 op­er­a­tions are ef­fec­tive at pro­tect­ing na­tive species and restor­ing forests.

“The agen­cies above, along with com­mu­nity groups and vol­un­teers, in­vest huge amounts of time and ef­fort to pro­tect out na­tive taonga from pre­da­tion. There are mul­ti­ple tools and tech­nolo­gies used to con­trol preda­tors of which 1080 is one. 1080 is a highly ef­fec­tive toxin and a nec­es­sary tool to help pro­tect our na­tive species.

“We un­der­stand that some New Zealan­ders have gen­uine con­cerns and fears about 1080 in re­la­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment, wa­ter, an­i­mal wel­fare and wild food sources.

“New Zealan­ders have a choice: use 1080 to pro­tect our na­tive species over large-scale wilder­ness ar­eas or end up with col­laps­ing and de­nuded forests and our na­tive species re­stricted to pest-free is­lands and fenced sanc­tu­ar­ies,” it said.

■ The DOC’S Coro­man­del of­fice was asked if there are any drops sched­uled for the Coro­man­del in the next six months and how peo­ple would be kept in­formed. It has not pro­vided an an­swer to the Coastal News.

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