By Tony Orman

The Tararua Ranges’ 1080 drops scheduled by OSPRI and the Greater Wellington Regional Council have no justification says the Sporting Hunters Outdoor Trust.  The OSPRI (formerly The Animal Health Board) planned drop east of Levin is founded on false beliefs.

Trust spokesman and conservationist Laurie Collins of the West Coast says current 1080 aerial drops on public lands in the Tararua Ranges and other areas are based on the two fallacies –

  • of possums spreading TB 
  • that the country has a bovine TB problem.

“Neither is true,” he says. “It’s irresponsible of OSPRI to be wasting public funds and damaging the ecology of public lands with 1080 and telling fibs.” 

Laurie Collins says the belief in possum-spread bovine Tb has been disproven a few years go when in Parliament the Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, disclosed that of 9830 possums autopsied, none had Tb. “Yet in 2020 we have OSPRI carrying out mass aerial 1080 poisoning in several areas including public lands such as the Tararua Ranges,” he says.

New Zealand is virtually TB-free

Laurie Collins says New Zealand is virtually TB free and probably one of the most TB-free countries in the world. The world standard for a country to declare “TB free” is 0.2% for TB infected herds and 0.1% for infected cattle. New Zealand rates of TB infection in cattle were slight, i.e. 0.0019% average generally over the last decade. 

“It is so far below that required by world standards for a TB-free declaration  — New Zealand must be one of the world’s most TB-free countries.”

“Of deep concern to New Zealanders who are outdoor Kiwis whether tramping, hunting, trout fishing or seeking whatever recreation in mountain areas, is the indiscriminate spreading of a poison that kills anything which ingests it.”

The poison 1080 has no “species boundaries — whether an insect, bird or animal, it kills.” he says. “Basically 1080 is an eco-system poison.”

Laurie Collins, now retired, has long and extensive experience of 1080, having been involved as a Forest Service trainee in the trials of the toxin’s first use in the late 1950s in the Caples Valley, Lake Wakatipu and in subsequent pest management work.

Transporting stock has spread TB

In the past there have been cases of farmers wrongly transporting stock from infected areas with resultant TB outbreaks on farms. OSPRI had ignored the stock transportation factor, proceeded to wrongly blame possums and then aerially spread 1080 over adjoining public lands. Laurie Collins cites such an instance in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley.

NZ’s extremely low TB infection rates raises the question whether OSPRI has a continuing role. “Instead of celebrating New Zealand’s TB-free status, OSPRI remains in denial and states its aim is total eradication of TB,” he says. “Is it that OSPRI want to continue its existence and jobs, funded by taxpayers and from farmer levies?”

Even from the first discovery of TB in possums near Westport in the late 1960s, no-one ever seems to have questioned whether the possum infected cattle, or cattle infected the possum. The default position has always been that it is possum that have infected the cattle.