Not Only in New Zealand

Reports are coming in of the demise of the last Golden Eagle in Wales. Killed most likely by poison, although it did have a couple of marks from shot as well although these had healed.

A truly sad day for Welsh conservation, although hopefully someday in the not too distant future attempts will be made to reintroduce the species.

Wingtip to wingtip longer than most people are tall, seeing a Golden Eagle in flight is breathtaking, and I well remember seeing them fleetingly on a business trip to the North-East of Scotland back in the early ’70s.

The golden eagle pictured in full flight

Secondary poisoning kills indiscriminately. Any predator/scavenger be it cat, dog, morepork, kea or raptor, etc. can succumb very easily. So-called non-target species take a hit no matter how well-intentioned the original reason for spreading poisons. New Zealand is far more guilty of this than perhaps any other country in the world with governments’ absolute obsession with poisons.

I happen to live on a large station overlooking Cook Strait, and one of the glorious wonders here are the frequent overhead aerobatics of the various raptors that survive on the plentiful small fauna – most frequently seen enjoying roadkill rabbit and possum. Incredibly tame too, I can usually get within 10 to 15 metres before disturbing them.

At least here is a haven away from mass poisoning. Several hundred hectares are kept mercifully clear of aerial bombardment. Nonetheless, a large population of native wildlife persists alongside the more exotic and persecuted species in our poison-free zone.

Ironically mass poisoning such as aerial 1080, aimed at rats, will kill 80% of the rodents. However the 20% survivors find themselves with less food competition and soar in numbers to be up to four times original numbers. Landcare Research studies have revealed this. However DoC chooses to ignore it.

Yes, in places where there are problems, rat numbers have to be kept down. Possums can also be a problem among newly planted trees since they seem to favour the tender tips of the small plants leading to deformation in later years. But all these can be achieved without the mass use of either 1080 or brodifacoum. Possum a pest or just a nuisance that a landholder can remedy? Once the trees reach a decent height, possums can’t really affect them.

Sadly though, neighbouring properties do not share the same opinions of 1080, and in recent years both sides have had aerial drops of 1080 that not only affects their populations of fauna, but as it happens takes out all our beautiful raptors as well. Last time this happened, it was over 18 months before I spotted a single hawk flying overhead – and that was only fleeting. It took another year for the numbers to build up truly to pre-poisoning numbers.

With other natives under threat, driven primarily by DOC and OSPRI’s headlong determination to kill anything that moves, our beloved Kea are headed along the same inexorable path as the Welsh Golden Eagle – all gone in the blink of an eye.

A kea pecking at a car tyre
Pesky at times, but beautiful all the same

The Welsh Golden Eagle is a lesson for NZ – but will it be heeded?

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5 Responses to Not Only in New Zealand

  1. Albert Francis says:

    NZ is hooked on a toxic money trail. There is too much money tied up in profit making SOEs (Animal Control Products that store and distribute 1080 is a SOE charged with making a profit above all else), in bureaucracies like OSPRI and DOC being given vote allocation money for ‘pest’ control/eradication, scientists doing compliant ‘research’ wanting more future paid science work etc.,
    It’s greed and more greed. Follow the money train.
    Investigative journalism that might expose the charade doesn’t exist in the media.

  2. Charles Henry says:

    I remember seeing a demonstration of various raptors on a tour of England as a teenager and being truly impressed by the Golden Eagle as well as the ghostly silent Barn Owl to name but two.
    Sadly now I suspect the days are rapidly approaching where the only places you’ll be able to see these magnificent birds is in captivity.

    • Dave Rhodes says:

      Probably the same demise for the World’s only alpine parrot – our very own Kea. Once so plentiful they had a bounty on their heads, now becoming increasingly scarce. Arthurs Pass was once home to a boisterous population, but last time I was there not a single one to be seen.
      This is not to mention all the other species our so-called Department of Conservation is entrusted to preserve.
      We keep seeing repeated claims of how well these others are doing, but nearly always following mass-poisoning to kill everything then translocating the odd species back. Pirongia and Taranaki spring to mind as examples.

  3. Stewart Hydes says:

    New Zealand is without a doubt guilty of the worlds worst example of indiscriminate, large-scale, aerially-applied, state-sponsored chemical pollution. Thousands of tonnes of a WHO Class 1A toxin .. spread across millions of hectares of otherwise pristine bush and backcountry. It’s misguided conservation .. bordering on criminal ignorance of New Zealand’s otherwise world-class animal welfare standards. It indiscriminately kills target and non-target species alike .. whether they be terrestrial, avian or aquatic. It is directly responsible for the accelerated demise of such species as Kea, native Falcon (Karearea), and Morepork (Ruru).
    Shame on DOC .. and shame on the NZ Government for sponsoring this ecocide.

  4. SADLY, THERE IS NO NZ GROUP THAT IS AWAKE TO THE CONTINUAL DESTRUCTION OF WHAT LITTLE IS LEFT OF OUR UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT AND OUR UNIQUE WILDLIFE – LEAST OF ALL DOC!
    MY WIFE & I OWN PART OF AN OUTSTANDING PART OF WHAT LITTLE IS LEFT IN THE VALLEY OF THE WAIRARAPA – TOGETHER WITH A MAJOR PART OF TAUMATA LAGOON. BUT NO PERSON FROM EITHER FISH & GAME OR DOC HAVE BEEN HERE. OUR MAIN SUPPORTER IS THE QEII NATIONAL TRUST AND THEIR WAIRARAPA MANAGER! BUT A YEAR AGO 98 STAFF MEMBERS OF THE MINISTRY OF PRIMARY INDUSTRY ARRIVED IN DECEMBER LAST YEAR – AND THEY, TOGETHER WITH THE QE2 NATIONAL TRUST MADE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS SUPPORTING OUR ENVIRONMENTAL WORK.

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