An Outdoorsman Speaks On 1080 Poison

by Bill Johnson

Editor’s note: Bill Johnson, a lifelong outdoorsman and opponent of 1080 penned a letter to the West Coast’s “Grey Star” in 2019. A reader has sent it to CORANZ asking for it to be published.

I am now 80 years old and this will be my last letter to the “Grey Star”. 

During my life I have been a hunter, trapper and conservationist and have spent many thousands of hours under the canopy of Westland’s native forests.  I have come to realise that the 1080 industry is not about saving our bird life from predation from rats, stoats weasels and possums but about putting money in the right pockets. Let us have a close look at some of the organisations who have, like leeches fallen off the trees and landed smack bang in the middle of the lucrative 1080 industry. 

It started in Westland by the New Zealand Forest Service, supposedly to stop possum’s from destroying rata trees. 1080 was then taken over by the Department of Conservation [1987] who organised a poster that was purposely designed to win over the New Zealand public. This poster featured a possum and a rat up a tree devouring young thrushes from the nest. The hunters and trappers in New Zealand immediately had a good laugh because to the trained eye the poster is a blatant fraud. Our laughter turned to disbelief as about three million New Zealanders swallowed the obviously fraud poster, hook line and sinker. 

Spin Doctors

This was exactly what the pro 1080 spin doctors had hoped would happen.  On the back of the sudden public support, “The Battle for our Birds” organisation was formed.     Followed by the “Predator Free New Zealand” organisation.  “Operation Crimson” was already out there gobbling up public money.  All of a sudden, the whole conservation movement went ‘feral’ with splinter groups forming all over New Zealand. To name a few:  “Operation nest egg”, “The Next Foundation”, “Orillion 

Orillion was previously Animal Control Products aka Whanganui Poison Factory, a state-owned enterprise (SOE) and originally started by Government in 1953 with first aerial 1080 use in NZ. 

Let us not forget “Zero Invasive Predators” (ZIP).  ZIP has had many articles in the Grey Star in recent months.  ZIP in my opinion is exactly the type of ‘human predator’ that this country could well do without.  ZIP’s chief executive tells that his organisation has no problems with finance. It would be interesting to find out what salary this man is collecting.  I would guess that a figure of two million dollars would be close to the mark. This money being donations from a gullible NZ public.

The 1080 industry on our West Coast has been a filthy industry since it first started in September 1959 right up to March the second 2019.   With lies and deceit the normal behaviour from the pro-1080 people.  The following are a few facts to educate ZIP on the ways of possums and the truth about rata dieback   

SQ River Jim 2.jpeg

Vanishing Possum

Last autumn one of ZIP’s 18 Possums who were fitted with radio tracking devises disappeared into the tussock above the scrub level in the Perth river valley. ZIP claims that this possum would have wintered over in amongst the rocks under the snow for the winter. Sorry ZIP but experienced hunters and trappers know that West Coast possums in high upper river valleys like the Perth sometimes climb right up the to the top of the ranges in the Autumn and descend down the other side to their nice warm winter-feeding grounds. ZIP’s wayward possum will very likely be almost ready to once again return to its winter-feeding grounds and may be still there when the ZIP 1080 application finally takes place. No doubt ZIP will once again arrive at an impossible 100% or so kill rate for the Perth’s operation while there 18 radio tagged possums contently munch away, miles away from the drop zone.

ZIP tell us that possum are eating rata trees to the point of extinction.  Tut, Tut, ZIP you have been reading the Operation Crimson’s glossy propaganda pamphlet. 

It is well-known that possum do very little harm to healthy rata trees. In fact, rata foliage is not palatable to possum until the tree reaches the old age die back stage of its life.  This is why the old age dying tree’s trunk is covered with scratches from possum claws, while the healthy young rata tree 40 metres or so away show no sign of possum scratches or foliage damage. 

Insect Hit

An interesting thing is that the scale insects hit the dying rata at the same time as the possum. There is no way that DOC are going to advertise this fact. Why kill the goose that lays the golden egg? To me, doubling the toxic loading of 1080 pellets [and the kg per HA/double-dropping] is nothing but lunacy. North Island studies by Landcare Research and the Animal Health Board [MPI’s OSPRI and TBFree arm] show the following results. 

Trial area A  (standard toxic  loading)  Results: Possums survival rate 43%

Trial area B  (double toxic loading)  Results: Possum survival rate 43%. 

So much for ZIP’S double toxic loading tests. 

The supposition that Tahr carcasses will keep kea from eating 1080 baits is nothing but a load of codswallop.   Who is going to skin all these Tahr so that kea can get to the flesh?   Kea will die of 1080 poisoning this winter. Why? 

The answer must be – To put more of the public’s money in the right pockets. That is why. 1080 is doing untold damage to our fragile environment and needs to be stopped right now. Wake up New Zealand you are being robbed by experts. Trapping’s the caper  

-Bill Johnson, April 2019P1040470.jpeg

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2 Responses to An Outdoorsman Speaks On 1080 Poison

  1. Lew says:

    Well written Bill Johnson.
    I’m sure possums have had so much 1080 poison chucked at them they are becoming poison shy so the gravy train will go on forever.

  2. Tony Orman says:

    There is no justification for demonising the possum. It is a slow breeder, there’s scientific opinion they are not invasive devourers of foliage and on bovine Tb, its just a big scare.
    Why cannot politicians see the decline in kea as happening with DOC’s mega-drops over the West Coast? OSPRI’s drops of 1080 are destructive, DOC “okays” them. The charade is so obvious. Meanwhile kea will decline further.

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