SPCA keeps tabs on poison issues

Last updated 13:38 11/09/2008

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In August last year a review by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) announced the continued use of 1080 confirming the value of 1080 in the fight against possums.

But the review also indicated that significant improvements were needed in using the poison.

The authority imposed tighter mandatory controls on users, including active monitoring of aerial operations by means of a watch list, and better management practices. It also called for further research to be done into alternative methods of possum control and certain impacts of 1080.

At the time the national animal welfare organisation, the SPCA, made submissions to Erma saying that while they recognised the damage to flora and fauna possums caused and the risk of TB infection, they were opposed to the use of any poison which caused pain, suffering or distress.

SPCA national chief executive Robyn Kippenberger says the animal welfare body has again recently approached both Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton and Maf Director General Murray Sherwin on the issue of 1080 use.

"We are asking for possum pest control to be better monitored, reduced where possible, and for the Government to actively look for alternative, more humane methods," she says. "This would include the use of cyanide where practical."

Robyn says the SPCA regards 1080 only as the best of a gruesome bunch of toxins available for killing pests in remote areas and while it is regarded as a necessity for the deer and dairy industry to control TB, "we are not convinced that sufficient restraint is being exercised in its use".

"We believe it is the dragnet of the forest and that other methods need to be employed where possible to ensure that other species are not affected as they have been in the past."

She says the SPCA is particularly concerned with two issues. "The use of 1080 specifically to kill deer, which is an extremely inhumane method, taking many hours to several days and leaving the babies of dead and dying hinds to starve," she says.

"We have condemned this and asked for an explanation as to why a toxin brought in to control possums and passed as relatively humane for that purpose can be used for another species entirely for which it is far from humane."

Robyn says SPCAs also takes issue with the cavalier attitude taken by contractors to the accidental poisoning of dogs, horses and wildlife, particularly native birds.

"We will continue to petition Maf and currently have their assurance that they will be speaking to Doc particularly in the case of the use of 1080 to poison deer. But we are also far from satisfied that recent changes in reporting, consultation, etc, are being enforced or are indeed enforceable."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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