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Save the Farmers

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...keep 1080 

At Question time in Parliament yesterday, the issue of the use of the pesticide 1080 was raised by Independent MP, Gordon Copeland.  Below are some comments the MPs made, taken from Hansard.

Gordon Copeland (Independent) to the Minister of Conservation: Will she undertake a comprehensive review of her department’s use of aerial 1080 drops, following the news that seven kea have died after eating that deadly poison?"

and a little later on in the debate...

Eric Roy: How can the public possibly have any confidence in the Minister and the Department of Conservation, when in one week its officers shot a takahē, mistaking it for a pūkeko, and in the next week we learnt that seven kea were killed in a botched poisoning operation?

Hon Steve Chadwick (Minister of Conservation): In reference to the first part of the question, the Department of Conservation staff are devastated by the outcome of that experience, and I reject the assertion of that member opposite. He was in a party that did nothing for 10 years about 1080 poison. If the members think they knew the risks about it, why did that member not speak to his Minister at the time and say that that operation should have been stopped. They did nothing because they knew the benefits."

Doesn't it strike you as pretty darn pathetic that our 120 representatives in Parliament are sitting back in their green leather chairs, discussing the death of a takahē?  Or the fact that seven Keas (native birds, but not endangered) bit the dust.

Peter Dunne (United Future Leader) refered to the deaths as "indigenous avian genocide", while ex-United Futre MP Larry Baldock, now leader of the Kiwi Party made the following comment in a press release,

"The Minister further confirmed her ignorance of the real dangers of 1080 when she stated that it broke down safely in water. The tests done to confirm that were carried out with water at 21 degrees C. Perhaps she could please advise which of NZ rivers are flowing at that nice warm toasty temperature so we can all go and have a hot swim completely safe from 1080 poisoning, said Mr Baldock."

However, the Department of Conservation website states that "1080 operations are usually conducted in winter and spring when wetter conditions assist rapid breakdown.", and also "1080 baits are dyed green and flavoured with cinnamon to make them less attractive to birds.  Individual birds may be poisoned but these numbers are exceedingly low."

The death of seven Keas and one Takahē is  nothing compared to the much higher threat to native birds from such pests as possums and ferrets, which the pesticide is so effective against.  Instead of a typical knee-jerk reaction, banning 1080, why don't we instead do some research into how it can be used with minimum adverse effect to our native and endangered wild-life?

But what about the farmers? Is anyone standing up for the hard-working farmers who form the backbone of New Zealand's economy?  Or are we so blinded by our desire to not let a few little birdies be accidentaly killed, that we will ban the pesticide which is currently the cheapest and most effective on the market?

"Another season of low wool prices means escalating pest control costs will take their toll on farming families. The financial limitations mean that a cheaper alternative to large-scale aerial 1080 poisoning is needed if farming operations are to remain viable at today’s commodity prices."
- from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry website

It would bother me far less that a handful of birds were killed by 1080, than that a farming family had to sell up due to yet one more unrealistic and unfair regulation imposed upon them.  And why can't our members of Parliament spend their time discussing important issues, not aruging out of their lack of experience, on subjects that they do not understand.

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