This baited poster was eaten by predators in the New Zealand bush. Here, 72,000 native birds, chicks and eggs are killed every day. Protect them from rats, stoats and possums by donating at forestandbird.org.nz/protect. —Full page advertisement on p16 of Sunday magazine, 19 April 2020
Shameless and misleading propaganda
By Roger Childs
Some years ago the Forest and Bird Society (F & B), circulated a comic pamphlet in primary schools about birds and 1080 poison. Two birds were talking on the forest floor and one warned the other not to peck at the 1080 pellet. The outcome of this exchange was more fledglings in the spring. No doubt some impressionable children were taken in by this utterly dishonest material.
The back cover advertisement in the Sunday magazine featured a robin on a piece of heavy cardboard. The large poster was propped up among some rocks with a few small tree seedlings in the foreground – no bush was in evidence – and it had Forest & Bird printed bottom right.
It raises a number of questions and issues.
- What is a baited poster?
- It wasn’t eaten, but rather chewed or otherwise damaged by the elements. About 70% of the poster was still in evidence.
- What was a cardboard poster doing in the bush? The material it was made from was bound to deteriorate in bad weather.
- 72,000 deaths per day? Who came up with that specific figure? If this carnage has been going on for the last ten years there would be few birds left in the country.
- The wording implies that possums and rats eat bird and eggs. Possums don’t, as they are herbivores, and rats only eat them occasionally, and prefer plants and scraps. Stoats and ferrets do eat birds and eggs.
No need to be dishonest
F & B promote aspects of the environment that most New Zealanders identify with. There is no need for them to sensationalise their cause with misinformation. The organisation does plenty of good work, but unfortunately supports 1080 poison as a way of dealing with predators which by definition eat other wild life. Possums don’t qualify.
As it happens, 1080 poison, which was first developed as an insecticide, kills thousands of birds and millions of insects every year. Sadly dogs, sheep, fish and cattle are also casualties in some areas.
F & B would get a lot more support if it abandoned its advocacy for poisoning the land and avoided advertising in a dishonest manner.