Keas’ Days Under Siege

Opinion by Laurie Collins


It is accepted that a good proportion off New Zealanders are opposed to 1080 poison used as an “animal control” tool in New Zealand. Not mentioned is the carbon footprint associated with an aerial drop of 1080 poison.

Virtually totally ignored is the “carbon footprint” of the helicopter that is flying over very ecologically sensitive areas. Nor is the public made aware of how many highly poisonous pellets actually end up on the ground.

I’ve used the example of aerial 1080 poison drops in the Kahurangi National Park, i.e., north west Nelson for some very basic sums.

There are eighty-three (83) 1080 pellets in each kilogram of delivered bait.

The normal consent for aerial 1080 operations is no more than 5 kgs per hectare.

Consider that the Department of Conservation has no logical reason for using aerial 1080 poison for “pest” control, then it can be assumed that the maximum allowable amount of poison is, in fact, what will be used.

Multiplying 83 pellets by 5kgs gives 415 pellets per hectare.

The Kahurangi poison drop covered 113,699 hectares.

Then 113,699 multiplied by 415 gives 47,185,085 (47 million) pellets of 1080 poison on the ground.

To reiterate that is over 47 million – a mind boggling figure.

If one in every ten thousand pellets kills one native bird, the Kahurangi aerial drop will kill 4,718 of our precious native birds.

Bye Bye Keas

The maximum number of surviving kea in New Zealand is about 5,000 birds according to the department. If the population inside Kahurangi National Park is 1,000 kea, then if each kea eats one of the 47 million pellets which would be available to them, the total Kahurangi kea population will disappear.

If this is added to the other huge West Coast aerial drops of 1080, then the kea will become extinct.

The above information is just one aspect of the secrecy spun by spin doctors, that shrouds these 1080 drops. I believe the public should be made aware of the absolute dishonesty of information as regards pest control and the use of 1080 in New Zealand that is put forward by the department.

Conclusion – Two West Coast 1080 drops that took place in late 2022 were over New Zealand’s main kea habitat. It would appear that kea’s survival has no place DOC’s 1080 agenda.

Footnote:- Laurie Collins of Westport was engaged on the first trials of 1080 in the Greenstone valley, Lake Wakatipu and subsequent use of it. Following NZ Forest Service employment he was engaged in “pest” control work for many years and has been a possum trapper other times. He still frequents the mountains particularly in the Lewis Pass area and has witnessed numerous 1080 drops and the aftermath.


Wildlife “Guru” Laurie Collins – kea survival bleak

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11 Responses to Keas’ Days Under Siege

  1. J B Smith says:

    Good on you Laurie Collins. Readers – and DOC please note – NZ Journal of Forestry (2011) says 1080 was originally patented in 1927 as an insecticide, it was not recommended for commercial use due to its high toxicity and persistence. No one mentions that in 2023 it still kills insects, vital to the ecosystem’s functioning.

  2. Karl Lorenz says:

    Yes, 1080 is an insecticide which happens to indiscriminately kill any creature that requires oxygen to metabolise its food. It kills slowly and cruelly. That includes all forest birds and insects. Insects are vital to the breakdown of leaf litter and working it into the soil, so even the health of the forest itself is under attack from 1080.
    Certainly both possum and rats are severely knocked back by 1080, possums – slow breeders – usually take years to recover, but rats (fast breeders) recover in a year or less.
    The population resurgence carries on so in 3-4 years the number of rats has increased 300% and even more, Landcare Research showed.
    There is a massive overkill that is being applied to our forests. Native birds are a major kill. The kea, curious and intelligent, is a major victim. Thank you Laurie Collins.

  3. Roger Dewhurst says:

    I suggest that dead birds be collected and formal complaint be made to the police demanding the arrest and prosecution of the helicopter pilot. Prosecute a pilot and there will not be many helicopter drops after that. Prosecuting a government official will be next to impossible. Thus go for the aircraft pilot who is doing a contract job. If the police will not do their job I am sure that there are lawyers who would prosecute at the drop of a hat, Sue Grey for example.

  4. Roger Dewhurst says:

    Confiscation of equipment used in the commission of a crime is not unheard of. In this case the equipment is a helicopter and the crime is that of killing protected native wildlife.

  5. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Some great points made here by Laurie.I can only add to what the points expert scientists far more qualified than I continually raise:
    The madness & futility of indiscriminate spreading of a universal non target toxic poison over vast areas of wilderness carries by definition the tragic tandem concept of un intended consequences.& it will be more than good bye keas,sadly no one in any official capacity seems to know or care.
    One thing is sure, there is money at the source if one was to follow the trail back.The industry has jobs in admin.,manufacture, transport, and distribution. This adds up to thriving livlihood & careers in keeping the wheels of poison turning. Downstream we will always need to contend with the hand wringing of lost jobs” taking food from children’s mouths” etc..

  6. Lew says:

    From memory I think the consequences for killing,handling, or having any native species in your possession can get you a $250,000 fine or a few years in the can. I think the prisons would be overflowing if those laws were enforced on the poisoners.

  7. Steve Vee says:

    Sad to think that Kea is another unfortunate casualty of Docs aerial pest killing work. It’s madness, and it’s negative impact will not be seen for 50 years. When the are insects and birds are removed it will take 70 years at least before the full impact is seen.

    Just look to the removal of the bellbirds in the Northland due to bird disease. It took just 4 years. The disease was “accidently” introduced with the settlers canaries and the total loss of the Adams Christmas mistletoe in 1954, which is longer seen in New Zealand bush above Waikato. There was an article about the last Christmas Mistletoe dying just a few years back, as a result of no regeneration of the
    flower due to the loss of the bell bird.

    See this link for more information. Video well worth watching

    This is a warning that what is impacted today can result in a result never expected many years later , when those responsible for the unintended changes are long gone from both there responsibilities and possibly this life.

  8. Charles Baycroft says:

    The people in our government that are responsible for the ongoing pollution of our environment with 1080 are well aware of what it is and all the “collateral damage” that it is causing.

    The problem is not a lack of awareness. It is just that those in charge DO NOT CARE.

    Their minds have become so confused and distorted by the “Predator free ambition, best tool in the box, war against the introduced species” narrative that they can no longer process objective information logically.

    The ongoing refusal to recognize the adverse effects of polluting the environment with highly toxic substances, as well as other irrational behaviours of people in our governments (like allowing our fresh water resources to be destroyed, our fisheries to be excessively exploited by foreigners, and the bizarre responses to climate change, a new virus and a few people that can’t figure out if they are boys or girls), is not just incompetence or lack of intelligence.

    What we are experiencing is an increasing incidence of mental illness/psychosis that is adversely effecting the politicians and other employees we pay to work in our government.
    These employees have lost their wee minds.

    The lunatics have taken over the asylum that is our New Zealand political system and corrupted the main political parties whose chosen representatives we tend to vote for and elect.

    The obvious result of hiring such impaired people to work in our government is the social and economic deterioration that most people are well aware of and experiencing.

    The solution to this madness is to stop hiring the political celebrities of the 3main parties and vote for the smaller parties and their candidates this October.

    • Roger Dewhurst says:

      Start with the first fundamental choice. Do bureaucrats simply do what they are told by politicians? Yes or no. Do bureaucrats do what they think is right and wave two fingers at the politicians. Most, I think, will choose the first option. What follows from that is the politician, minister, is, or should be, totally responsible for all outcomes of policies he approves. That is fine by me. If a politician supports a policy which results in the death of protected wildlife he pays the penalty, millions of dollars in fines or imprisonment. If that is the law the problem would be gone overnight. In fact it would solve almost all of our problems with government. When a major goof means bankruptcy or prison time politicians would be very much smarter and very much more careful.

  9. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Could i please remind people of the best statement i know on trying to adjust nature by the use of poison from the the late great ecologist Bill Benfield:
    “Trying to shape nature with poison to some preconceived vision of some prehistoric garden utopia, is like the futility of pushing against a spring. It will always return to its default setting, regardless of the money & effort thrown at it.”

  10. "Ex Wildlife Officer" says:

    Laurie Collins is absolutely correct. Keas will always pick up and eat 1080 pellets (in any form)because that is what kea’s do. They are curious opportunistic feeders.
    The ongoing, complete waste of time, dumping of tons of 1080 in a bait form is a stupid way for DOC to use up their allocated budget. Any successful application lasts for about six months before the breeding success of rodents returns to the status quo and then three years is triple original numbers. The same does not happen for our native species because rats are exceptionally super breeders.

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