Nelson, Aug 2 – There is no evidence of kiwis having been killed by 1080 poison dropped to kill possums, but a lot have been killed by traps, a senior conservation officer says.
Department of Conservation senior officer Kurt Janson said an NZPA report from Nelson last week incorrectly reported him as having admitted kiwi had been killed by 1080 drops.
In fact, he had told the possum Fur Producers’ Association conference at Nelson that 50 kiwis had been traced by radio during 1080 poison operations and none had been killed.
By contrast, he said, a 1984 survey found that when traps were used, one kiwi was caught for every 3940 possums and 40 percent of the birds died from their wounds.
Mr Janson said today the topic was canvassed in the context of trappers criticising new regulations aimed at cutting down on the numbers of kiwis dying in possum traps.
Possum Fur Producers Association president Malcolm Moore told the conference Conservation Department regulations for trapping were going to be a bone of contention.
The new regulations state traps have to be set 70cm above the ground. Mr Moore said this forced hunters to put an extended chain on traps so possums weren’t left swinging. They then had a lot more movement which increased the likelihood of being injured while in the trap.
Hunters were unhappy about the range of lures allowed and wanted magnolia included in the list. DOC has told the trappers cinnamon, orange, aniseed, plum, cherry and lemon are acceptable baits that do not attract birds.
Hunters questioned the authenticity of claims that kiwi were being caught in traps. They argued that 1080 drops were wiping out rats and leaving kiwi as the number one food source for ferrets, weasels and wild cats.
Mr Moore also told Conservation Department staff at the conference: "We want an open mind and not the outright hostility we’ve had from you in the past".
Association hunters criticised the department’s use of 1080, questioned its impartiality, level of research into trapping methods and the quality of research it had done into the effects of both 1080 and trapping on kiwi.
But Mr Jansen said it was up to hunters to sell their services to DOC and to come up with research to prove their effectiveness, he said.
Mr Jansen defended DOC’s continued use of 1080, instead of changing to professional hunters, saying: "If we don’t come up with the goods we stand a good chance that Treasury will take the money away from us".
In the 1993-94 year two-thirds of DOC’s work had been ground operations, he said. DOC figures showed aerial drops of 1080 were the cheapest method of possum control, costing $15.90 a hectare. Ground operations cost $20 a hectare and Taskforce Green came a distant third, costing $40 a hectare. The success rate of ground and aerial operations had been the same.
But hunters suggested the inclusion of skin recovery would make ground operations the cheapest. They also questioned the effectiveness of 1080, with many saying they knew of operations that had not been effective.
NZPA NNM kca 02/08/95 18-20NZ