by Stewart Hydes
Those who oppose Aerial 1080 believe it is just plain wrong, on so many levels. Efforts to get it stopped are frustrating. International exposure is bittersweet.
So-called anti-1080 people generally love New Zealand, its bush and its back country with a fierce, unbridled passion — and do not want their beloved country painted in a bad light.
As concerned citizens, however, anti-1080 people are horrified by heinous cruelty against wildlife; attacks by their own government, its agencies, and their cohorts on their way of life; and risks to their whanau, and public health.
Hunters (and fishers) are often accused of only being against Aerial 1080 because it kills the animals they like to hunt. As if this is some sort of crime. Especially, given that their quarry are vilified as evil, introduced species that were only introduced so they could be hunted. As if they introduced them.
Hunters often resent this, for the following reasons:
1. Nobody who is alive today is guilty of introducing any of these species. They were introduced in different times under different thinking, by society as a whole when the disastrous consequences of the risks associated with some species (eg mustelids) were not well recognised… and with the sanction of government.
Nobody alive today is any more responsible for this than any other. Joe Hunter is no more guilty than Eugenie Sage.
2. We just so happen to have been born into a country where these species existed and have taken up a perfectly legitimate way of life that centres around hunting and fishing for these species and harvesting them for our tables as a mainly recreational activity.
3. We, more than any other group, take responsibility for population management of these species. Where we are free to do it (made possible by favourable regulation and public access). Our harvesting helps keep their numbers in check. We spend into the hundreds of millions of dollars of our own money doing it — and we harvest 150-200,000 big game animals every year (and millions of smaller critters).
4. Therefore it seems entirely reasonable that we should claim hunting and fishing for these species as an intrinsic part of our way of life. And therefore, view any attempts to eradicate them as an attack on our way of life.
That does not make us any less true conservationists — quite the opposite.
Generally, we are doing more for the ecological protection of our native species than any other voluntary group .. by a massive margin. What would happen to introduced species populations if we stopped? Introduced species are our quarry.
We want to see them maintained at sustainable population levels, that appropriately manage native ecological harm — just not wiped out.
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