Deerstalkers restate 1080 disapproval

Southern deerstalkers have reiterated their national policy of opposing 1080 poisoning in the face of a report advocating its increased use.

A report by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright warns that unless 1080 is used over larger areas of the mainland, kiwi could vanish from unprotected areas within a generation and native birds could disappear from forests.

The pesticide was cost effective and safe, and any proposed moratorium would destroy more of the landscape, the report says.

New Zealand Deerstalkers' Association Southland branch President Nathan Dawson yesterday said the association's policy was to oppose 1080 poisoning.

Southland Fish and Game resource management officer Jacob Smyth said the council was neutral on the use of 1080. The main issue for Fish and Game was 1080's toxicity to dogs and use of the poison in game bird hunting areas, he said.

Tests had shown that trout were not affected by 1080, Mr Smyth said.

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne has described the new report as a "kick in the guts for many of our provincial communities". Mr Dunne said 1080 had been used in New Zealand since the 1950s, yet native bird populations remained in serious decline with predatory pests still the major culprits.

"Most people recognise that after 50-odd years of fighting a losing battle it's probably time to rethink your strategy, however, not according to the proponents of 1080.

"1080 was an extremely cruel and indiscriminate killer, with a high level of secondary poisoning.

"While it is possums, rats and stoats that are targeted by the poisoning, many native birds, pets, and recreationally valued game animals are killed by it also," he said.

The Labour Party has backed the report, saying it provided an evidence base for people to form their views on 1080.

Conservation spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said New Zealand could not afford to give up the battle against introduced pests such as possums and stoats.

Labour was calling on the Government to adopt all six of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment's recommendations on 1080, including developing a national fur harvesting policy and ensuring there was no moratorium on the use of the pesticide, Ms Dyson said.

The commissioner said she was surprised by her findings.

Ms Wright compared 1080 with other poisons and other pest-control methods, and measured its cost-effectiveness and safety.

"I was also surprised, when you set it up against these criteria, just how good 1080 was. I really didn't expect it to look so good."

Any proposed moratorium on the use of 1080 would allow possums, rats and stoats to destroy more of the landscape and devastate native bird populations, she said.

-With Fairfax