Stop Taxpayers’ being ripped off with questionable 1080 drops!

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OSPRI have identified the Timaru Creek area that borders the shores of Lake Hawea, for an aerial 1080 poison drop to combat the possum population. This is despite no recent evidence or scientific monitoring of high numbers.

This operation will cost hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars to indiscriminately spread tons of toxic 1080 poison across our supposedly clean and green country in the ‘hope’ of eradicating a problem we’re not even sure exists!

No recent monitoring has been done in the specific area proposed for aerial application and OSPRI’s attempt to communicate with the public has been woefully inadequate, yet again.

Please sign our petition requesting a properly advertised community meeting with adequate warning for local Hawea residents and a tangible business case to be presented to the Community.

We also call on all Government Ministers and Associates in the Environment, Agricultural, Fisheries, Finance, Health, Sport, Recreation and associated portfolios, to urgently review the due diligence process around future aerial applications of 1080.

Please continue reading for full background details.

What is 1080?

Sodium fluoroacetate, known in pesticide form as 1080, is the organofluorine chemical compound with the formula FCH2CO2Na.

In humans, the symptoms of poisoning normally appear between 30 minutes and three hours after exposure. Initial symptoms typically include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain; sweating, confusion, and agitation follow. In significant poisoning, cardiac abnormalities including tachycardia or bradycardia, hypotension, and ECG changes develop. Neurological effects include muscle twitching and seizures; consciousness becomes progressively impaired after a few hours leading to coma. Death is normally due to ventricular arrhythmias, progressive hypotension unresponsive to treatment, and secondary lung infections. Source -

On the 5th of March 2018, through a random Facebook post, a few of us learned that there was a proposed 1080 drop for the Timaru Creek area. The fact sheet specifically states that ”Monitoring has shown that further control work is needed  in the Timaru Creek area to reduce the possum population and minimise the risk of the disease spreading through wild animal populations and onto farmed cattle and deer. Historically, TB was well established in the Timaru Creek TMA and still is.” Monitoring has not shown this as, no monitoring of the possum population has been done.

This informal notification advised of a public meeting to be held at the local community centre a few days later on the 8th of March to discuss this use of 1080. This informal notification was only four days before the meeting, which was coincidentally also the night before the start of the Wanaka A&P show, recognized as the 2nd largest event of its type in the South Island and an event that many locals would have been heavily involved with.

Unsurprisingly, the turnout for the public meeting was not high with only 3 of the 13 people present were actually there to represent the public interest.

One of those attendees from the public provided a report on the discussions that took place, for interested parties who were unable to make the “community meeting” at such short notice.

The “meeting” was in fact set up as an “information session” and did not appear designed to cater for community discussion. OSPRI staff were reluctant to give their own names and would not discuss which farms bordered the drop, as it was considered private information. During questioning, it has become apparent that OSPRI have not done any monitoring of the area to first establish the possum population numbers, let alone if they have TB, due to a lack funding. Yet, funding is available for post-drop monitoring!

We formally question the financial responsibility of launching such a large and costly operation until such time as a full analysis of the area has taken place to establish actual need.

Whilst four pigs in the Stodys Creek area may have been identified as positive for TB in 2015, and whilst OSPRI suggests this can be used as a marker, it has not been scientifically proven to show that there is corresponding TB in possum populations.  In any case, proper monitoring of possum numbers should be done to establish if an aerial drop is in fact required.

Given the toxicity of the proposed poison and the dangers this presents to both human and other wildlife, it would seem ecologically and environmentally irresponsible, to unnecessarily put our already threatened wildlife at risk, unless there was an absolute need to do so.

A letter to the Otago Daily Times on the 14th of March, from an Oamaru resident with experience of trapping possums, stated he had just spent 4 days in the area proposed for poisoning by OSPRI and spotted little evidence of the possum population being in excess of the 2% threshold that would indicate action needed to be taken.

Very little in this business case stacks up and if 1080 really is the only realistic option available to us, where is the real and tangible evidence that clearly identifies this need?

If monitoring statistics do not exist and numbers are not clearly evident, common business acumen suggests that you would spend the comparatively small amount required to do this research, before asking for thousands of tax-payer dollars to douse our lands of natural beauty in such an indiscriminate manner with a known deadly-toxic poison.

1080 is a World Health Organisation, Class 1A Eco-toxin, banned in most countries. One third of a bait would provide a lethal dose to toddlers and these lie around the bush, are cinnamon-flavoured and sweet.

If 1080 is the only realistic option, why is it necessary to go through the motions of a public meeting in such an underhanded or, at best, sloppy manner?

Why are OSPRI so reluctant to give their names? A vital requirement in assessing the merits of the information that you allegedly seek to impart upon the public is assessed on your name and expertise in a certain field of knowledge.

Where is the proof that the aerial operation is the only option?

In the real world, anybody who approached their company board with such a ludicrous business case would be thrown out! Why should OSPRI, the company entrusted by the public for the responsible application for toxic 1080 poison across sensitive areas of New Zealand, operate on different rules?

This isn’t the first time OSPRI have been implicated in sloppy business practices. In April 2016, Lawrence residents were upset over similar tactics around the level of communication with the public, lack of real monitoring and the suitability of the area for a proposed aerial drop. Reference - 

OSPRI were also involved with the proposed operation in Luggate in August 2017 when a scheduled 1080 drop was halted after protest from the locals. This was because OSPRI had included the domestic water supplies for several residences within their proposed drop zones. Reference -

We call on Brent Rohloff and the rest of the team at OSPRI, to call a proper community meeting in Hawea, with a minimum of 14 days advance warning and community wide advertising, to give the local community a fair opportunity to discuss the indiscriminate poisoning of our country in the name of ‘necessity’!

We also call on the new Government, Prime Minister - Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister - Winston Peters, Grant Robertson - Minister for Finance, Sport and Recreation, Dr David Clark - Minister for Health, David Parker - Minister for the Environment, Nanaia Mahuta - Associate Minister for the Environment, Stuart Nash - Minister of Fisheries, Damien O’Connor – Minister of Agriculture, Food Safety and Rural Communities, Meka Whaitiri – Associate Minister of Agriculture, James Shaw – Co-Leader of the Green Party, Associate Minister for Finance, Eugenie Sage – Minister of Conservation & Associate Minister for the Environment, to urgently review the due diligence processes currently applied to costly operations for application of 1080!

We demand a proper business case to be delivered to the local residents and taxpayers before OSPRI accesses public funds to embark on large-scale projects, involving toxic poisons that could have serious implications on the health of the walkers, the hunters and the delicate eco-systems and wildlife we are fighting to protect!

For more information on infected numbers of possums and TB, please check out Richard Prosser in the parliamentary debate, 3rd June 2015 -