See our earlier post and the story today reproduced below. Our colleague Roger Childs comments:

“The independent tests on the wildlife washed up at Westport North Beach are fascinating. And the earlier admission that OSPRI – DoC’s official poisoner – that probably 1,000 deer at least were killed in the Molesworth drop back in 2017 made the local Deerstalkers Association livid.

“The Westport findings should be front page in Stuff, but don’t hold your breath.”

The last observation is certainly the case — Stuff’s business strategy is to be pro-government so when it comes to bad behaviour, machinations and cover-ups by government institutions, it is either partisan on their side, or in something quite blatantly exposed, as in this case, circumspect.  Fortunately there are independent media, including the Greymouth and Westport local papers as well as the Kapiti Independent and us, who aren’t government lackeys.

One of the traditional methods of pest control for rural dwellers has been to go out and shoot them, but that has now been made very difficult because of the bans the present government has placed on semi-automatic firearms.  The other option is to use traps, which have been shown as very effective.  Indiscriminate spreading of highly toxic poisons just poisons everything in the eco-system, including what they are supposedly intended to protect; there is plenty of evidence.

Independent Testing Shows Wildlife Poisoned by 1080 — Proof  that DoC hasn’t come clean on Westport deaths 

Two non-profit environmental groups in New Zealand have today published independent test results indicating that 1080 poison was the likely cause of death at an environmental catastrophe in Westport, New Zealand. On November 9th, 2019, one week after a Department of Conservation (DoC) aerial 1080 poison operation 140 km upstream, dead wildlife washed down the flooded Buller River. 

Hundreds of potentially toxic carcasses of rats, a goat, birds and numerous aquatic species were strewn across the public beach at Westport. 

Full results provide the evidence of poisoning

The full results of tests undertaken by an independent laboratory, using the latest methodology (see note below) and equipment, include samples taken from 5 rats, 1 weka, 2 shearwaters, 1 starfish and 6 mussels. 

  • The samples from 4 of the 5 rats tested positive for three chemical markers of 1080 poison, including the toxic chemical, fluorocitrate. 
  • This was also the case for both the shearwater birds. 
  • The starfish and weka also tested positive for fluorocitrate. 

There were no traces of 1080 detected in the mussels. The tests included stomach and intestines of samples extracted from carcasses collected from the beach and Buller River by volunteers. For the security and safety of the independent chemists involved, the identity of the laboratory has been withheld. 

Contradictng the DoC findings

These findings contradict claims by DoC on Wednesday, which stated 1080 was not found in any of the wildlife tested. This raises serious questions about the methodology employed by the laboratories commissioned to undertake DoC’s testing. 

It appears from their lab reports (published on DoC’s website) that the samples were only tested for the presence of the active ingredient, fluoroacetate. 

But as Prof Shaw, toxicologist from the University of Canterbury pointed out, because of the delay in testing this would have already been broken down into other substances, for example, fluorocitrate. 

Scientifically valid toxicological testing requires the most up-to-date, and accurate methods to be used, and in the case of testing for 1080, that means analysis of the metabolic chemical markers of the poison from a variety of sources within the carcass. 

There are other serious discrepancies in DoC’s claims and associated toxicology reports. The number of rats tested is inconsistent, and in the pathology report of the weka it was noted “both lungs exuding frothy pink fluid”, a common symptom in animals that have been victims of 1080 poisoning. 

The full results of these independent tests will be made publicly available on Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa’s website and copies sent to relevant government agencies and MPs. Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa and Clean Green NZ Trust, along with their volunteer supporters and many thousands of concerned New Zealand citizens, are calling on the government to act now to protect public health by initiating an immediate independent investigation into this tragic incident and stopping all aerial 1080 poison operations before more wildlife are harmed.

The nature of 1080 poison

Sodium Monofluoroacetate (Compound 1080) is a highly toxic, inhumane, synthetic metabolic poison. It has no antidote. It is banned in many countries. The sublethal effects of the poison on humans are unknown, however it’s a proven endocrine disruptor and impacts upon the body’s major organs.

 It is manufactured in the USA by Tull Chemicals and transported to New Zealand’s two Government-funded poison bait factories, where it is mixed with cereal or other substances perceived to be attractive to ‘pest’ species (e.g. rats and possums). 

Tonnes of poison baits are regularly and systematically distributed via helicopters over thousands of hectares of New Zealand’s land and waterways – including drinking water catchments.

 For over 65 years of this practice New Zealanders have voiced their increasing concern about the negative impact of this indiscriminate poisoning, not only on wildlife, but on public health too, from contamination of the food chain. 

To date, there has been no independent studies of the claimed ‘effectiveness’ of this policy and no epidemiological research has been undertaken.

Details of the testing process

NB Lab is accredited with ISO9001; 17025; 27000 QMS
Methodology is based upon the Pitt protocol (2015): 

  • biological material was removed from the frozen carcass, then an accurately weighed portion was homogenized using a polytron 3000 into extraction solvent. 
  • This solvent liquor was then cleaned-up and the cleaned pregnant solvent analyzed using HPLC with both Time of Flight, linear ion trap mass spectroscopy and fluorescence to check against standards containing fluoroacetate and fluorocitrate. 

The method STARFISH, WEKA< SOOTY SHEARWATERSwas checked for repeatability and linearity. FT-IR and Raman were used to check for the presence of green dye acid 9, as that is only used in the bait pellets and is not a naturally occurring substance at detectable limits. Complete and robust Chain of Custody with SoPs available upon request.

(Press Release on behalf of: Flora & Fauna of Aotearoa, Incorporated Society 2735472
Clean Green New Zealand Trust Registered Charity CC54185. )