A conservation group’s efforts have been tarnished by anti-1080 vandals despite the area they look after not being treated with the poison in 30 years.
Bay Bush Action Trust (BBAT) members were disappointed to find their pest traps kicked over and signs, put up to protect kiwis from dogs, graffitied with anti-1080 messages at the Opua State Forest near Paihia, Northland.
The defaced sign was gifted to the group by an Opua resident and installed by Ngahere Toa, a group of children from Waitangi keen to learn about the forest’s conservation and protecting the kiwi.
“They were so proud of it,” said Brad Windust, trustee and volunteer of BBAT.
“It’s a kick in the guts to have this challenging volunteer work attacked.”
Windust admitted that trapping was a technically old and expensive method, but couldn’t see why protesters would waste time protesting 1080 at the site, when it wasn’t used at Opua State Forest.
“We can’t gets rats below 27% because rats become trap shy.”
Invitations sent to protesters to join the trust in a trapping session attracted no takers, he said.
“They have time to kick over our stoat traps and deface our signs but they’re not prepared to even trap the forest as an alternative to 1080.”
The trust was formed in 2011 after locals witnessed the forest in a “state of collapse”. It had since trapped 9140 rats, 2857 possums, 184 stoats and weasels and 128 wild cats. Around 100 volunteers set over 2000 traps each month.
Beyond the graffitied signs, a viewpoint over the forest revealed plenty of “big dead grey trees” destroyed by possums, Windust said.
“It’s heart wrenching to see the forest dying because there has been no pest control in 30 years.”
Although the trust did not use 1080, it was a vocal supporter of its use.
“We are 100% in support of its use now, for a number of reasons but mostly because it works.”
“[The group] will not be threatened, silenced or intimidated by the anti-1080 lobby while introduced pests are destroying the great native forests of New Zealand.”
The use of 1080 to eradicate pests has long been debated in New Zealand, with environmental groups nationwide claiming it kills native birds and animals.
In January, the SPCA was criticised for its statements condemning the use of 1080 because it said it causes “intense and prolonged suffering to animals that we believe their use can never be justified”.
Conservation organisations Department of Conservation (DOC) and Forest and Bird both support the use of 1080.