KAKA Delegation to Meet with BDC

Submitted by Paul Murray on Tue, 22/04/2008 - 10:32pm

A delegation of KAKA (Karameans Advocating Kahurangi Action) members and other concerned citizens from Karamea and other areas of the Buller region that are opposed to the aerial dropping of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) will be attending the Buller District Council (BDC) meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday April 23. They will be presenting Council with a copy of an anti-1080 petition signed by 35% of the adult population of the Karamea region, a copy of a recent submission to the Ombudsman on behalf of KAKA and the residents of Karamea and a list of questions seeking public disclosure of the direct or indirect costs (if any) the BDC may have incurred in the support of the Animal Health Board's aerial 1080 drop scheduled for Karamea and the Northern Buller this year, or any other 1080-related campaigns over recent years.

A similar list of questions will soon be presented to the Animal Health Board, West Coast Regional Council and the Department of Conservation and any other body that may have a role in providing direct or indirect financial support for the use of 1080 in the West Coast region.

Please find a copy of the KAKA letter to the Ombudsman along with a draft copy of the question list below.

Karameans Advocating Kahurangi Action (KAKA)

A number of concerned community residents have formed an action group to look at the issue of possum control in the Karamea region. We are opposed to the broad scale aerial application of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) and seek to find a better solution to the aerial drop scheduled for June 2008.

The following document was prepared by KAKA on behalf of concerned
Karamea residents and has been submitted to the Ombudsman.

Details of the Complaint:

The Animal Health Board, in their single-minded approach to possum control in their attempt to eradicate bovine tuberculosis, appears to have complete disregard for the residents of Karamea and stakeholder groups (including a significant proportion of dairy farmers) who are concerned about the broad-scale aerial application of sodium fluoroacetate (1080).

There are other considerations that should be factored into the programme and many residents of Karamea have the following concerns:

  • Environmental concerns: Sodium Fluoroacetate is an extremely toxic chemical and many residents are concerned that the broad-scale use of the poison in our region will ultimately influence human health.
  • Irresponsible use of ratepayers and public money: The possum numbers in the Karamea region do not warrant a pest control operation of this scale. (The West Coast Regional Council paid 7 possum trappers $350 per day for a period of seven months—a total of 100,000 trap nights—to monitor possum numbers in the Karamea region. They caught a total of 269 possums, 4 of which were allegedly Tb positive). This equates to about $1,800 per possum! These figures do not in any way justify the massive aerial 1080-drop scheduled for June this year. If it goes ahead, it could only be considered to be a gross misuse of ratepayers and public money. Given that 10% of the “possum control programme” is funded by ratepayer’s money, this is completely unacceptable.
  • Tourism Industry: The use of 1080 and other poisons in Karamea, in the Kahurangi National Park and along the Heaphy and Wangapeka tracks is negatively impacting on the tourism industry and the "Clean Green/100% Pure NZ" brands. Tourism operators in the Karamea region feel the use of 1080 is damaging their respective businesses.
  • Non-target pests: The indiscriminate use of 1080 kills many other species in the process of killing possums. The last 1080-drop in 2005 decimated the birdlife in and around Karamea and bird numbers are yet to fully recover. There is also evidence to suggest that possum, stoat and rat population recover rates are significantly greater than that of native birds. The scheduled drop for June 2008 will further reduce bird numbers. Carrion-feeding birds and birds of prey are particularly susceptible.
  • Morality Issue: Sodium Fluoroacetate has been branded by the RSPCA in Australia as an "inhumane poison." Animals that have ingested 1080 die a slow excruciatingly painful death...use of 1080 is cruel and immoral.
  • Water Contamination: Many residents of Karamea collect drinking water from the areas scheduled for 1080 drop and are extremely concerned about their water supply being contaminated.
  • Chemical Residue and Persistence in the Environment: Sodium Fluoroacetate breaks down in the environment at temperatures above 20C. However, the temperature on the forest floor rarely exceeds 20C and the temperature in the water never reaches 20C, so many people are concerned about the possibility of chemical residues persisting in the environment and entering the food chain.
  • Influence on Human Health: Sodium fluoroacetate is a known endocrine disruptor, many people are concerned that the chemical could influence fertility levels of both men and women and also about the effect it could have on developing foetuses. The broad-scale use of 1080 may cause birth defects if a pregnant woman is exposed to the toxin.
  • Consideration of Other Publics: The dairy industry is one of many publics in the Karamea region. Tourism operators, tourists, organic farmers, hunters, fishermen etc should also be considered and it should be remembered that people live here in Karamea...and we are concerned that the use of 1080 will negatively impact on our lives.
  • AHB’s evidence base for 1080 drops and monitoring of outcomes: Despite approaches over many years AHB have been unwilling (or unable) to provide the type of scientific evidence that would normally be required to justify programmes like aerial 1080 drops. For example:
    • Clear (scientifically valid) TB infestation rates.
    • Clear (scientifically valid) evidence that high bovine tuberculosis rates in the Karamea region are the result of transmission from possums rather than the result of factors such as the inaccuracy of TB testing, soil and moisture conditions, transport of potentially infected stock from other areas, etc.
    • Sound methodologies for tracking the impact of 1080 drops on possum numbers, bird numbers, rat numbers, stoat numbers, bovine TB rates, etc. In this respect it is deplorable that there appears not to have been, nor will be a coherent programme of post-drop monitoring (e.g. sound estimates of immediate impacts on bird, possum, rat, and stoat numbers; and annual monitoring of recovery rates, and annual monitoring of TB infestation rates in local dairy herds and possum populations).
  • The lack of transparent, publicly available scientific evidence upon which the AHB claims to be basing its decisions is clearly at odds with the responsibilities and obligations of any publicly funded body or government agency in Western democracies.
  • The Animal Health Board has become and errant quango and needs to be urgently reminded that it is a publicly funded government organization that is answerable to the people of New Zealand and is not a law unto itself.

What have you done to solve the problem?

Approaching the Animal Health Board is a fruitless exercise, as representatives of the board seem to believe they are infallible and that the concerns of the general public are not worthy of their consideration.

The West Coast Regional Council's AHB representative Chris Pullen stated publicly that the residents of Karamea would have no chance of stopping the 1080-drop scheduled for June 2008. To be fair to Chris, he is considerably more reasonable than his predecessor Andrew McAllister. So, without any consultation with the residents of Karamea whatsoever, the AHB is determined to proceed with their 1080 programme regardless of the numerous valid, reasonable and real concerns of the residents whose lives will ultimately be affected.

The AHB and West Coast Regional Council did hold a "public consultation" late last year, but for the many residents who attended it was more a decree than a consultation...we basically went along to hear what had already been decided and were informed what was going to happen...the "consultation" was a complete farce.

A petition as worded: “We the undersigned are opposed to the use of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) in the Karamea region. We do however support the use of trapping, possum specific poisons and biological control.” Was posted at various sites in the Karamea region for one month. A total of 349 people signed the petition of which 174 were residing in the Karamea region. Others were from other regions on the West Coast, elsewhere in New Zealand or visitors from overseas. This figure represents at least 35% of the adult population of the Karamea region. The petition is ongoing, but copies of the signatures collected thus far will be presented to the Buller District Council and the West Coast Regional Council and local MP Damien O’Connor.

(NB* The petition was passively promoted, with active promotion, the number of signatures would be significantly higher, especially in the Karamea region)

What is the Desired Outcome?

  • KAKA members recognise the need for possum control in the service of the dairy industry's battle with bovine tuberculosis, but vehemently opposes the indiscriminate aerial broadcasting of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) in areas around our community.
  • If poison must be used, let it be pest specific, rigorously controlled and its efficacy and environmental impact regularly monitored. We consider trapping to be a much better approach to the problem as there is little environmental impact and the possum products of skins, fur and meat could be utilised, which would create employment and boost our local economy. The indiscriminate aerial broadcasting of sodium fluoroacetate should be immediately outlawed.
  • We seek an immediate halt to the aerial drop scheduled for June 2008 and an end to aerial 1080 programmes in the Karamea and Kahurangi National Park regions.
  • A more holistic approach to TB eradication, which will include; better TB monitoring and testing, improved herd management techniques, vaccination, stricter stock transport controls (until TB tests can be guaranteed 100% accurate, there should be no stock movement whatsoever), improved farmer and public liaison by AHB officials to increase awareness about bovine TB and how to address the problem, improved accountability of the AHB, unbiased scientific research and studies to glean a better understanding of bovine TB and how it is transmitted, as well as developing a vaccine to combat the disease.
  • The establishment of a national possum control programme that is publicly and environmentally responsible, open to public consultation, debate and submission, one that is transparent, accountable, based on unbiased independent scientific research and fact and above all, common sense.

Financial Questions For Buller District Council

Does the Buller District Council (BDC) intend to provide, or has the BDC provided, any direct or indirect* financial support for the distribution and/or application of 1080 in the Buller District?

* Indirect support includes such items as assisting with the planning of 1080 campaigns, identification of locations for the application of 1080, monitoring of pest populations and/or Bovine Tuberculosis rates and/or any other use of BDC resources that are not a direct financial allocation.

If support has been, is being, or will continue to be provided by the BDC:

  • What direct and indirect costs have been incurred since in each of the financial years since January 2000?
  • What are the expected direct and indirect costs for financial year 2007-08?
  • Have estimated costs for out years beyond 2008 been calculated (in accordance with standard financial operating practices) and, if so, what are those estimates.
  • To what extent have the costs involved been financed out of general rates revenues and revenue derived from the provision of Council services (e.g. building approval fees), as opposed to grants or other revenue allocations from external bodies (e.g. central Government agencies or industry bodies).

Letter to Mr Pat McManus, Mayor, Buller District Council

Mr McManus

In your capacity as Mayor, we would like to ask you a few questions about the ongoing use of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) in the Buller District.

As you know, a group of concerned ratepayers from the Karamea area recently formed the community group KAKA (Karameans Advocating Kahurangi Action) to raise public awareness of the financial, economic, and environmental issues pertaining to the use of 1080 in West Coast environments and, more immediately, oppose the scheduled aerial drop of 1080 in Karamea in May, 2008.

Over the next few months, and ensuing years if necessary, KAKA (in conjunction with like-minded groups along the Coast) will continue to develop and implement an overarching strategy to achieve its agreed objectives. That strategy includes an ongoing emphasis on the roles and responsibilities of our elected representatives at the local, regional and national level (including appointed members of relevant local bodies). It also includes an emphasis on identifying the level of financial resources currently used to develop and implement 1080 campaigns. Our primary purpose in this regard, is to ensure that the level of funding currently used on 1080 campaigns is--if the use of 1080 is abandoned or greatly restricted--maintained and used to support alternative approaches to dealing with issues such as eradication of bovine tuberculosis, control of possum populations, etc.

Consequently, you will find attached a brief series of questions for Council designed to publicly identify the level of resources, if any, that the BDC has provided, or intends to provide, in support of 1080 applications across the Buller District. Similar questions will soon be put to other relevant bodies.

The BDC’s responses to these questions should be forwarded to Mr Paul Murray at P.O. Box 54 Karamea 7893 (ph: 03 7826 767) or Mr Cleveland McKay at PO Box 140 Karamea (ph: 03 7826 874).

Paul Murray/Cleveland McKay (on behalf of the KAKA committee)


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