Phas­ing out 1080 with smarter trap­ping

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE -

Ao­rangi Restora­tion Trust spokesman David Lawrence said many for­est users had no­ticed a resur­gence in birds but rat pop­u­la­tions could bounce back in a mat­ter of months af­ter 1080 drops.

‘‘You hear peo­ple say that the birdlife has never been so mar­vel­lous and I think the 1080 is timed to be strate­gic for the hatch­ing of birds.

‘‘1080 is re­ally fire-fight­ing. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily mak­ing progress in the long term, but it cer­tainly holds things where they are, but how many years can we go on us­ing it?’’

Mart­in­bor­ough fish­er­man and au­thor Bill Ben­field is ve­he­mently op­posed to the use of 1080, the rea­sons for which are out­lined in his book At War With Na­ture call­ing the use of aerial poi­son­ing a ’’rort’’ pro­moted by the pest erad­i­ca­tion in­dus­try.

He ar­gues that the use of 1080 is based on the false premise that possums are a threat to na­tive birds.

‘‘1080 kills ev­ery liv­ing thing on a non-dis­crim­i­na­tory ba­sis - possums, rats, birds (na­tive and non-na­tive), in­sects, worms, bees, fish, but­ter­flies.’’

This con­trasted to Dave Hans­ford’s widely-cir­cu­lated book Pro­tect­ing Par­adise which ex­am­ines anti-1080 ar­gu­ments and ‘‘finds con­clu­sively that the many claims made by 1080 op­po­nents are plain wrong’’.

‘‘Af­ter more than 60 years of re­search into 1080, there re­mains no ev­i­dence that it per­sists in the hu­man food chain, or causes cancer, or harms our wa­ter­ways,’’

THE NUM­BERS

$1.34m spent on Project Kaka 1080 drops since 2010. 95 tonnes of bait dropped in Project Kaka over 29,000 hectares $70m spent in to­tal ev­ery year across NZ on pest con­trol $28m pledged in 2017 from Govern­ment on Bat­tle For Our Birds over four years 900,000 hectares cov­ered in Bat­tle For Our Birds Hans­ford said.

Vic­to­ria Univer­sity re­searcher Stephen Hart­ley has been mon­i­tor­ing pest and bird pop­u­la­tion num­bers in Ao­rangi For­est Park which shows clear ev­i­dence that pest num­bers plum­met im­me­di­ately af­ter a 1080 drop but bird pop­u­la­tions re­main rel­a­tively un­af­fected.

Al­though 1080 would kill any an­i­mal that con­sumed enough of it, the type of ce­real bait now used meant it was usu­ally eaten by target an­i­mals such as rats, possums and stoats.

The univer­sity mon­i­tor­ing showed birds such as the bell­bird, the tomtit, ri­fle­man and white­head made a come­back while pests were sup­pressed.

Hart­ley ad­mit­ted that rat pop­u­la­tions were quick to re­cover and could be back to pre-bait drop lev­els within 6-18 months, de­pend­ing on con­di­tions.

The use of 1080 is also sup­ported by or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Council, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers and For­est & Bird.

Al­though 1080 is the pest con­trol tool of choice in larger forests, smaller blocks are lean­ing more heav­ily on so­phis­ti­cated trap­ping sys­tems and strate­gic plan­ning.

Pukaha Mount Bruce Na­tional Wildlife Cen­tre for­est restora­tion project be­gan in April 2001 with the aim of restor­ing the area of rem­nant in­dige­nous for­est just south of Eke­tahuna.

Pukaha chair­man Bob Fran­cis said with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of new strate­gies and the in­stal­la­tion of hun­dreds of auto-re­set­ting Good Na­ture traps they were mov­ing away from 1080. From a sus­tain­abil­ity and cred­i­bil­ity point of view, they would pre­fer to be able to keep their for­est pest free with­out 1080.

Pukaha gets 35,000 vis­i­tors a year and the un­fenced for­est is now home to 80 kokako and more than 300 kaka. It is hoped the kaka pop­u­la­tions at Pukaha and on Kapiti Is­land will help grow frag­ile pop­u­la­tions in the Tararua Ranges.

The De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion’s in­volve­ment at Pukaha has re­duced, but the Govern­ment still pro­vides $200,000 a year to­wards the cen­tre’s cap­tive breed­ing pro­grammes.

The Pukaha Mt Bruce Trust spends $150,000-200,000 a year on trap­ping and poi­son­ing in the 942ha for­est. Hori­zons and Greater Welling­ton re­gional coun­cils pro­vide pest con­trol for a 2500ha buf­fer zone around the re­serve.

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