Small group protests against 1080
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.