The long awaited Shark Cage Diving decision was released by the NZ Supreme Court last week. This was great news for Bluff and it’s shark cage divers Shark Experience Ltd as they are back in business when the Great Whites arrive in December as part of their annual migration.SC-86-2018-Shark-Experience-v-Pauamac5-and-others
The court clarified the meaning of “hunt or kill” to include any actual kill, intentional hunt or disturbance which may cause significant harm. The offence is “strict liability”, so is unlawful even if there was no intent to “hunt or kill” wildlife.
Shark Cage Diving is conducted in accordance with a code of practice approved by DoC and it’s shark expert Clinton Duffy, in accordance with best international practice to avoid harm to sharks.
Is poisoning kea and other wildlife an offence under the Wildlife Act?
The shark case has drawn attention to other activities which may harm or kill wildlife, including aerial poisoning operations. Research shows a high rate of bykill of wildlife such as kea from aerial 1080 operations and the poisoning of kiwi, kakariki, morepork, weka, Kaka, tuatara and an array of other species
The recent “blue cockroach” photo highlights the risk of secondary kill from thse poisons. In this case four tuatara were killed after they ate and were poisoned by cochroaches which had eaten brodifacoum rat bait.
These tuatara were poisoned at Nelson’s Natureland zoo. https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/113989565/picture-of-poisoned-blue-cockroach-watershed-moment-in-tuatara-deaths
This was at much the same time as Naturaland’s sponsor, the Nelson City Council, was funding the highly controversial aerial poisoning of the Brook Sanctuary with the same brodifacoum poison, ironically so it would be “safe” to release tuatara there.
It is well established by published research that 1080 poison and brodifacoum kill and sub-lethally poison an array of wildlife. Both cause cruel and prolonged deaths. Brodifacoum is banned in many countries overseas because it is bio-accumulative and builds up in the foodchain over many years. The sale of wild prok from the Marlbough Sounds is banned due to its contamination with rat bait making it unsafe to eat.
1080 is banned in many countries due to its risk for use in chemical warfare (for example if a terrorist put it in a public water supply), its extreme toxicity and the absence of any antidote. DoC frequently claims that 1080 is “biodegradable”, however its rate of breakdown and breakdown products depend on temperature, the microbes present and other environmental factors. 1080 may be converted during respiration to fluoro-citrate which is extremely toxic, damages muscle, sperm and mitochondria and can cross the blood brain barrier as a neurotoxin. The carbon-fluoride bond in the 1080 molecule is very robust, and 1080 may eventually break down to methyl fluoride (Freon) a greenhouse gas. The fluoride ion is toxic and neurotoxic in many forms.
DoC and MPI specify a minimum withholding period of four months (which may be extended to eight months), for wild foods exposed to 1080 poison. 1080 poison baits tend to be stable until the poison is flushed out with water. 1080 may be present for many months in poisoned carcases, with the poisoned carcases themselves becoming poison baits. Poisoned carcasses may kill kea, morepork, falcon, weka, dogs and other animals through SECONDARY POISONING. Brodifacoum, 1080 and their metabolites contaminate the food chain including milk, water, trout, puha, wild deer and pork.
A family in Putaruru was hospitalised for many weeks with symptoms of severe 1080 poisoning after eating contaminated wild pork supplied by a local hunter. Early claims from Waikato DHB that it was suspected to be botulism were later disproven.
The government itself recommend caution and a long period before eating wild foods that may have been exposed to 1080 or brodifacoum:
- The ‘date of application’ for the “proposed” and “will be laid” operations is provisional only and may be subject to change.
- Occasionally urgent reactive operations (such as TB blips or pest incursions to fenced mainland sanctuaries) may be added to the pesticide summary with little notice prior to the application date. Be aware that printed or downloaded copies of pesticide summaries may be out of date. Check the latest pesticide summary information on the DOC website, or check with the local DOC office before entering any area.
- The ‘expected time to warning sign removal’ is an estimate only. This period will be extended if bait or carcass monitoring indicates that pesticide residues may still be present. Until this period is finished, warning signs will stay in place and the operation will continue to be listed on the pesticide summary.
- Do not eat animals from these areas (except for areas where only cyanide and/or cholecalciferol and/or insecticides have been laid) while warning signs are present and operations are listed on the pesticide summary. Do not eat trout for seven days after aerial application of 1080 baits.
- Also, do not eat animals from within the ‘buffer zone’ outside of the operational area boundary, as listed below. Note that there are no buffer zones for cyanide, cholecalciferol or insecticides.
A recent OIA from Landcare shows the widespread contamination of 1080 throughout out food chain and even in the urine of workers.
There are no approved tests for some of our important export foods such as honey.
The death rate of kea averages at around 12% of tagged kea per drop with some aerial poison killing half or more of the tagged kea including in Lake Rotoiti one of the most successful breeding female.
Information recently released from DoC for the Whataroa Perth area showed very few mature kea out of the 70 or so that were tagged.
DoC recently created an aerial poison exclusion zone around the area where Takahe had been released in Kahurangi National Park in recognition of possible risk of the poison to this rare species. It is unfortunate they don’t provide the same protection to kea in recognition of the well established harm to kea from 1080 poison
The shark cage diving case has highlighted wildlife act obligations for poisoners. the penalties are very substantial, including fines of up to $300,000 and imprisonment for breaches for commercial purposes.
Its time for a major review of the way poisons are used in New Zealand due to animal cruelty/wildlife issues and also the contamination of our food, water, ecosystems and environment. Tens of thousands of New Zealanders agree that “if poison is the answer, we are asking the wrong question” resulting in numerous petitions including Tricia Cheel’s 1080 referendum question which requires a massive 300,000 votes.
Surely it should not be so harm to get “our government” to listen to us, to end its unwinnable war on nature and to adopt a more compassionate approach that upholds both the letter and the spirit of the law, and promotes community and environmental wellbeing.
We know a connection with nature and the outdoors is good for our spirit and our souls, whether we enjoy walking, gardening, food gathering, photography or other activities. Its time to reclaim our great outdoors for our people and to start cherishing rather than poisoning our wildlife.
Former PM John Key’s toxic Predator Free 2050 strategy has created massive divides in our communities and $11 million barriers (including locked offices and security guards) between the people and those who are supposed to represent us.
Its time for our people to have a say in conservation and the way our taonga are managed for our future.
I wrote to DoC and the Attorney General yesterday. Let’s see how open they are to listening and changing their practices to comply with the law.