1080 baiting is fiercely debated across New Zealand. Hunters often lead these debates as they frequent the areas that the Department of Conservation (DOC) drop the baits. The baits target the introduced mammals, some of which hunter’s are already targeting.
This week the fight has taken a spiral for the worst with a group known as the “New Zealand Hunters”sending aletter to DOC and media organisations threatening to mount a war against the use of the pesticide.
“This will be a war like no other, you watch this happen around you,” it reads.
“We the hunters of New Zealand have had enough of your bloody lies”.
“We will take down helicopters who support 1080 drops”.
“We will take down people one by one, blood will fall. Watch this happen.”
The letter says the group intend to pick up pellets and target open milk vats and the inside of meat processing companies.
“Be warned DOC, these hunters have more guns than you or the police.
“There is no respect for you bastards any more. Let the war begin.
“Just be very careful, stop using 1080.”
DOC and the police confirmed to Fairfax that they were investigating the threats. In October, Game Animal Council chairman Don Hammond said releasing the deer was a mindless act.
“While there have been issues surrounding the use of 1080 in our environment this is not the way to deal with them,” he said.
Social media commentators believe that the group has no hunting ties with the name has been used to mislead investigations.
Alternatives to 1080 baiting
New Zealand aims to be predator free by 2050. People are sceptical of this goal ever being met with current trapping and baiting programs falling well short of the mark on a problem that kills 25 million birds a year and costs the country $70 million annually?
The use of 1080 and other toxicants is a highly divisive issue and they are not user friendly in one of the latest battlegrounds New Zealand and its mountains.
Mark Jennings from Newsroom.co.nzreported former Prime Minister John Key in search of answers accompanied the National Party’s Bill English and Steven Joyce on a visit to the Wellington headquarters of trap manufacturer Goodnature, back in 2016.
By all accounts the trio was impressed with what it saw.
“I think they could see that we can do it. I think it gave them confidence that their plans (to have a predator free land) were possible” said Robbie van Dam, one of the company’s founders.
Goodnature makes the world’s most advanced trap. It is a true Kiwi success story.
Founded on a $250,000 grant from the Department of Conservation (DOC), Goodnature now has 35 employees and has paid back the investment many times over in the PAYE it generates.
So far, this year it has made 80,000 traps and is expanding its annual production to 200,000 traps.
Its flagship product is the A24. So-named because it automatically resets itself 24 times before the gas canister that powers the killing device needs replacing.
The trap is revolutionising predator control.
The A24 kills a rat or a stoat, ejects the dead animal and then resets ready for the next victim.
DOC’s national predator control officer Darren Peters is like most people Newsroom speaks to when the issue of 1080 gets
raised – he’s nervous.
“I don’t really want to go there,” he says.
But Peters is highly enthusiastic about the new generation of traps.
“They are the way of the future, traps have a huge role to play and I there is still a lot more development to come.”
Peters believes the 2050 goal of being predator free is realistic and not some unachievable dream.
“I personally think we can do it, if we get on with it. The thing that is missing, is a strategic approach.”
“We need to get all the money that is currently spent on control and put it one pot with one plan or strategy.
The money we spend on TB control, the money the councils spend, DOC’s money and the amount coming from private donors combined would go a long way down the track to getting us there.”
“If we add up all the people we have got working in this area including all the volunteers, we already have enough labour to do this.”
“With resetting traps like the A24, we can cover 12 times the area we are covering now.”
Peters told Newsroom that possums could be eradicated from Northland in five years if the right strategy was employed.
“We have this advantage of a huge fence just south of Northland – it is called Auckland – that nothing will get through.”
“We’ve shown how effective we can be by eradicating or controlling rats, possums and stoats on many of our offshore islands.”