Time to Tell Politicians Outdoors are Public Property

An Opinion by Tony Orman 

It’s time to tell the politicians now that election day has passed that we the fishing and hunting public, numbering around a million, are fed up with governments’ disregard for good values such as clean rivers, plenty of fish in the sea and wild animals. 
Tell them we’re angry at 1080 poison on our public lands, that over 60 percent of our rivers are not fit to swim in and government’s weak standards for clean rivers are weak and utter nonsense!  Tell them we don’t like foreign oil companies drilling in our forest parks or off-shore in our seabed.
Tell them cutting recreational saltwater fish bag limits and not reducing commercial catch limits is wrong and unfair.
Remember former Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s claim of an enormous “biblical” rat plague with mast years of beech trees seeding? What utter  poppy-cock. My church-going friends tell me the Bible never mentions rats. 
Beech tree mast years have cyclically occurred for millions of years, rats have been here 800 years.  But “Smith’s Dream” via his evangelical strident cries was a cry for more 1080. More birds will die from 1080 than from natural predators.

Nick Smith, former Conservation Minister                                 Eugenie Sage, Conservation Minister 2017-2020

The successor to Smith as a conservation minister was Eugenie Sage, a devout Forest and Bird disciple and Green MP. She continued the 1080 topdressing of public lands with a zealous vengeance and turned her hatred of “introduced” wild animals onto the rare Himalayan mountain goat known as tahr.
ll it needed was population management with selective harvesting – not extermination blitzes.
Rat and Stoat Explosions
To return to mass poisoning as with 1080. All it achieves is a massive upheaval of the food chain and predator-prey relationships.
Eighty percent of rats die with 1080. The surviving 20 percent prosper. 
Rats are prolific breeders compared to say deer or possum which have one young a year. 
A female rat can be pregnant at six weeks of age and have four or five litters of several each year. 
One rat in 12 months can produce 40 young.
Fast breeding rodents will undergo massive population surges from the survivors of 1080. Landcare Research (2007 Ruscoe and others)shows within three to four years, rat numbers following an aerial 1080 drop have exploded to 3 to 4 times original numbers. The ecological disruption does not end there. Stoats principal prey are rats so stoats with a super-abundance of food, explode in numbers too.
All DOC and OSPRI have achieved are population explosions of rats and stoats, the very predators they seek to eliminate.
How ignorant can public servants be?
But perhaps Smith and Sage think with more 1080, it will boost sales for government’s SOE 1080 company? 
If so then it’s not conservation but money and greed.
It is also ecological irresponsibility and damage.
You may ask who cares about politics? You better care not just for yourself but especially your kids and grandkids. What legacy do you want to leave them? 
A good friend and outdoors mentor of mine was the late John B Henderson. John fought for the ”Save Manapouri” campaign in the 1970s, was an inspirational president of NZ Deerstalkers’ Association. John unselfishly spent years and years and thousands and thousands of his personal dollars publicly battling on behalf of hunting and fishing and the public estate. 
John was such a brilliant orator who was feared in debate by politicians like the Minister of Lands late Duncan McIntyre so that McIntyre refused to debate with “JBH”.
John’s realised ”politics and the environment are just cause and effect.”
In other words you cannot dodge politics because the decisions that result in threats to free access, clean trout rivers, your birthright to catch snapper or swim or fish in untainted rivers, etc., have their birth in politics within the bowels of the Beehive or government departments.

John B Henderson, Tararua Ranges about 1958

“JBH” would be saddened at things today. e.g. 61 percent of our rivers unsafe for swimming, at government plans to weaken the Resource Management Act and dilute controls on polluters. He would be angry at the lax controls of foreigners buying high country stations and erecting locked gates – at overseas oil companies prospecting public forest parks for oil – at corporate fishing companies pulling the strings of puppet fisheries ministers and cutting recreational fisher’s rightful catches and giving fish to commercial corporates. 
He’d be angry at a lot of other trends too.
Scant Respect
JBH had scant respect for politicians because of bitter experience of “very arrogant government ministers– glaring cases of deceit and deception by cabinet ministers” as he told in speeches. 
Yes, it sounds very, very familiar by today’s politicians.
Well it’s time to stand up and be counted and speak out.
The Council of Outdoor Recreational Associations  produced an election charter this year and ranked political parties. The two main parties Labour and National could not be bothered responding – despite a reminder.
The parties in Parliament need reminding again.

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