DOC Slowly Kills Black-backed Gulls in a Culling Exercise

special report

The Department of Conservation is embarking on a cull of black-backed gulls on the Waitaki River bed using a method that causes a slow death by hypothermia.
An advertisement says the exercise will take place in November using Alpha-chloralose powder mixed with margarine and applied to a bread bait. Baits will be hand laid directly within gull colonies.
The purpose is to “control black-backed gulls.”
Doc undertook control work to remove southern black-backed gull colonies from the Waitaki River, east of Kurow, as the gulls were preying on black-fronted tern and wrybill colonies.
There were “unnaturally high numbers” of the gulls in the lower Waitaki and the colonies targeted had about 600 birds in them, Geraldine operations manager Duncan Toogood said.
In late 2019 the Swedish Chemicals Agency (Kemi) introduced stricter rules for the use of the rodenticide alpha-chloralose. It obviously has a “secondary poisoning” characteristic as in Scandanavia pets such as cats have eaten poisoned mice.
The reported symptoms of poisoning are hypothermia, ataxia, apathy, muscle twitching, drooling and coma. Symptoms start quickly and can last even for 24 hours,” says one authority.
The recent advertisement in a South Island paper said “this pesticide used in this operation is poisonous to humans and domestic animals.”
Further it warns to “always remember:-
DO NOT touch any bait 
WATCH CHILDREN at all times
DO NOT BRING DOGS into this area
DO NOT EAT animals from this area
DO NOT touch sandwich baits

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7 Responses to DOC Slowly Kills Black-backed Gulls in a Culling Exercise

  1. "Chinook" says:

    Why would the poisoning take place in November when gulls are probably nesting and the public are using river beds for recreation, fishing for salmon and trout and walking dogs. Frankly brainless stuff by DOC — again.
    Young fledgling gulls will probably due a low death without parents.

  2. A Bird says:

    Isn’t there a law that says the consequences of killing or poaching a native bird is a 7 year jail term or a $250,000 fine.
    What happens to the gulls that die and finish up floating down the river? If DoC were really concerned about excessive numbers why not use cyanide for an instant kill and have them drop on the spot and not die a slow death, they would be more easily recovered as well.

  3. Lynley Tulloch says:

    This is just awful to read about. The slow killing of these sentient animals is cruel and completely unacceptable. Thank you for raising awareness of this.

  4. Jim Hilton Batchelor Science Hons Biology 1971 says:

    The Department of Conservation’s Operation Manager, Duncan Toogood will have a hard job convincing me that black-backed gulls are in “unnaturally high numbers”.
    The truth is they are in “unnaturally LOW numbers” because their natural food supplies have been decimated by human interference with natural food chains. Black back Gulls die from secondary poisoning when they scavenge on the carcases of wildlife killed by 1080 poison. Also insecticides and glyphosate have killed many of the insects gulls and other birds feed on. I remember hundreds of gulls feeding on tilled paddocks in the 1950’s, famous photos in the NZ Weekly. Black Back Gulls were once protected along our coasts and for 15 miles inland. Now they are persecuted everywhere. I can understand chasing gulls from airports where they can be a hazard to aircraft but to poison this native species for doing the job they are supposed to do is just not on.

  5. John Gornall says:

    DOC to scatters poison as a remedy for every problem, as others happily scatter bird-seed. The Law against cruelty to animals appears not to apply.

  6. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    I stupidly thought with Lou Sanson gone ,maybe the Dept. of Extermination might gain some sense. Might be worse now, shame they don’t ply their trade expertise on the running wild out of control dictator horsehead & the “marked chin asset grabber.
    Plus Plenty more where they came from too.
    Blanket Air drop a square km, zero target Beehive

  7. Geoff H says:

    Black Backed Gulls are NOT native to NZ. They are worldwide.
    BBG predate several smaller birds, even the smaller gull species.
    I imagine that if cyanide was used for a ‘quick kill’, they would rapidly learn and get bait shy.
    Why do this? YOU try working when there is a flock of 20+ gulls having an argument on a warehouse roof next door. (Right in their ‘natural habitat’)

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