Some readers may have seen an article in the DomPost recently about deer surviving 1080 drops on the West Coast, but Fairfax a.k.a. Stuff so far has not published OSPRI’s admission of massive Molesworth deer deaths.

by Carol Sawyer

Admission by DoC’s dirty work 1080 agent 

OSPRI finally admits that 92% of the deer population were killed by the aerial 1080 poison drop in October 2017.

Eight helicopters dropped toxic 1080 bait at 2 kg/hectare on a 61,200 hectares area in late October, 2017. This iconic high-country station is owned by the people of New Zealand and is a recreation reserve managed by the Department of Conservation.

Molesworth Station is a massive 180,787 hectares and a further two aerial 1080 drops (ca. 60,000 hectares each) were planned. These were deferred “after the initial possum control operation [in] 2017 killed more deer than expected” an OSPRI spokesman told the NZ Herald on 17 AugustMolesworth Station 2018.

A hunters’ survey at the time, reportedly of approx. 10% of the 61,200 hectare poisoned area, reported 345 dead deer — whole family groups. As it was Spring (late October) there will have been fawns left to starve.

What about the Deerstalkers survey?

The Marlborough branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association then commissioned a survey of the whole area aerially 1080 poisoned, “to assess the amount of collateral damage done by 1080 poison” and to “inform the public debate.”

They hired helicopters “to methodically sweep 60,000 hectares of the country’s largest high-country farm, Molesworth Station, counting the number of by-kill deer after the toxic poison drop.”  The survey results have never appeared.

On 14 February 2019, it was announced that the results of the survey, together with a report by Lincoln University PhD student Kaylyn Pinney would be released to the public “within a month.” Here we are, 27 March 2019, and the report has still not been made public.  It is now nearly 18 months since the aerial 1080 poison drop.

OSPRI’s Jennifer Lawn spills the beans

However, there was a meeting of the Upper Clutha branch of the NZ Deerstalkers’ Association held recently  in Wanaka. Approximately 25 people attended.

A representative from OSPRI, Jennifer Lawn, was in attendance to talk about their TB-free programme, and in particular the results of their aerial 1080 poisoning of the Timaru Creek area, Lake Hawea, on 20 June 2018.

Ms Lawn (OSPRI Operations Extension), when giving figures on how many deer are killed by 1080 poison, volunteered the information that 92% of the total deer population on Molesworth Station was killed by the October 2017 poison drop.

If 345 deer were killed in 10% of the station originally surveyed, and the kill rate is 92%, that means that presumably up to 4,000 deer were killed in that one 10080 operation!

1080 cruelty

poster art by James Smith

No wonder OSPRI “deferred” the remaining two thirds of Molesworth Station.

It should be remembered that this poison operation was to kill possums, not deer.

It should also be remembered that–

  • pigs, goats, and birds were killed in unknown numbers at Molesworth as well
  • insects feeding on poisoned carcasses are always killed in such operations
  • birds such as falcons, owls and hawks are killed when they feed on carcasses, on poisoned insects, or on the baits themselves.
  • Animals that ingest 1080 suffer a prolonged painful death.
Ch 9 Visual 3 The role of deer as browsers was misunderstood (Jim Hilton)

(Jim Hilton pic)