Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage needs to take a basic biology lesson on the difference between a vegetarian herbivore and a carnivore predator, says a hunting and conservation advocacy.
Laurie Collins spokesman for the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust (SHOT) said Minister Sage in announcing a $16 million plan to make the West Coast’s Lake Brunner predator-free said the predator-free goal involved removing possums.
“The Minister doesn’t understand the difference between a predator and a herbivore.” he said. “Possums are vegetarians not predators.”
Research over the last 70 years had shown possums were herbivores. He quoted recent studies such as Landcare scientists Sweetapple and Nugent who in a 2007 study analysed possum stomach contents which showed no meat of feathers. Three years earlier Landcare Research scientists Fraser, Sweetapple and Knightsbridge in a study of possum diet in south Westland found less than 0.01% of insects and no trace of birds in stomachs.
“Furthermore about 70 years ago in the Orongorongos near Wellington scientist Ralph Kean and assistant Les Pracy concluded after a 20 year study that birds and eggs very rarely if at all, featured in the diet of possums,” he said.
The programme of Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) using 1080 will instead kill birds and insects said Laurie Collins
“In using 1080, the minister is knowingly killing native birds and invertebrate insects, that is assuming she is aware 1080 was first developed in the 1920s as an insecticide and that 1080 does kill birds particularly curious species such as bush robins, keas and others,” he added.
Laurie Collins who as a NZ Forest Service forestry cadet in the late 1950s worked on New Zealand’s first 1080 trials and spent years within the department and in local body work in the wilderness, said he was appalled by the Minister’s apparent ignorance and obviously the same of her advisors in the Department of Conservation.
Possums were no threat to New Zealand’s vegetation which had evolved over millions of years under browsing by millions of moa and vegetarian species such as kokako, pigeon and others.
“Any browsers whether its moa, deer, kokako, possum or whatever simply alter the composition of vegetation with palatable foliage species lessening and unpalatable increasing. Landcare Research scientist Graham Nugent told DOC at a possum pest workshop in 1994 the effect of possums was simply altering forest composition.”
The minister talked of preventing “reinvasion” by possums assuming ZIP succeeded but this was ignorant of the fact possums were very slow breeders with only one “joey” a year.
“It’s imagination rather than reality by the minister and her department,” said Laurie Collins.
Contact:- Laurie Collins 03 782 8647
© Minister Eugenie Sage – “knowingly killing native birds and insects?”