The New Zealand Pig Hunting Association
Policy statement on the use of 1080 poison (sodium monoflouroacetate} to control pests in New Zealand
Game animals are a cultural,economic and recreational resource that is highly valued by New Zealanders. Game species are susceptible to 1080 poisoning either by design or as result of the control of pest species. 1080 poison is currently a widely used tool in pest control, however its use in our environment has and is becoming an extremely contentious issue. Issues such as the by-kill of other species, animal welfare, residues and New Zealand's international image need to be addressed.
Much of New Zealand's pig hunting necessitates the use of dogs which are particularly susceptible to being poisoned with 1080. The New Zealand Pig Hunting Association does not accept the indiscriminate use of 1080 or its use for game animal control except in extreme circumstances and will assess these on a case by case basis. The NZPHA advocates for nationally consistent policies and methodology that minimises side effects, especially its effect on dogs and the allocation of significant resources to finding more acceptable alternatives.
- The NZ Pig Hunting Association
The goal of the NZPHA is to provide co-ordination and a collective voice for estimated 25,000 Pig Hunters and Hunting Clubs at a National Level. The New Zealand Pig Hunting is an association of both formal pig hunting clubs and other pig hunting groups. The contribution that pig hunting makes to conservation recreation and food gathering for many New Zealanders is enhanced by the existence of a national association. Recognising our valued introduced species such as wild pigs and providing a conduit for hunters to have a formal role in their management is a key focus for the association.
Game animals in New Zealand
- New Zealand's game animals are an important recreational,social and economic resource.
- All large game in this country (deer, tahr, chamois, pigs) is susceptible to 1080 in species-specific doses. In addition, dogs, used in both farming and recreation, are fatally susceptible to 1080 at doses rates sub-lethal for ungulates.
- Wild game species are typically found in the same localities as pest species targeted for control by poisoning,and the continued expansion of deer farming and the advent of game estates has resulted in managed game often sharing boundaries with public land administered by the State.
- All game species in New Zealand are harvested for food, and while deer farming accounts for the vast majority of game meat exports, shot wild game is significant in both export statistics and domestic consumption.
- The combination of recreational hunting and aerial recovery expertise developed over the past 30 years allows privately funded control and management of New Zealand's big game populations at no cost to the government. There is no justification for the use of toxins as a control measure for these species.
Game species as an economic resource
- The deer industry has total export earnings of more than $300 million and has a goal of $1 billion. N Z Venison returns have been, assisted considerably by the perception internationally of venison as a safe food item. European consumers have traditionally perceived venison to be a hunted product and often do not differentiate between farmed and hunted sources at the point of purchase or consumption. New Zealand, as country of origin, enjoys an unparalleled reputation for its farming,environmental and animal husbandry practices.
- The game estate industry has earnings of approximately $20 million annually and has considerable potential for expansion. Internationally, New Zealand is considered to be the world's premier destination for hunted red deer stags and Himalayan tahr and is increasingly recognised for the quality of its other game species. It is considered a safe, stable, unpolluted country, and attracts a discerning,influential hunting clientele.
- The expenditure by New Zealanders on recreational hunting has recently been calculated to be in the order or $170 million annually. Large game species are a major focus of that hunter spend. Less easy to quantify, but probably of greater significance, is the role hunting plays in the national health statistics as a form of recreation enjoyed by thousands.
- Pigs play a significant role in recreational hunting statistics and the estimated 25,000 pig hunters harvest approximately 100,000 pigs annually almost exclusively for private consumption. This is a considerable contributor to feeding many families. Private pig hunting is by far the most effective tool we have for controlling pig numbers.
- The use of 1080 poison in pest control
- The NZPHA supports the need to control possums and ferrets as significant vectors of tuberculosis and for conservation reasons. The Association recognises the threat to both New Zealand's natural ecology and the
potential risk that an unacceptable incidence of Tb presents to New Zealand's status as an agricultural trading nation. The use of 1080 to manage vector populations is therefore acknowledged until such time as alternative
methods of control or protection of livestock are found.
- However, there appears to be no unequivocal policy from pest control agencies to avoid the killing of game animals with 1080 while targeting possums. There are several recorded instances of deaths to both wild and farmed game animals as collateral casualties from possum poisoning operations. This level of by-kill in game species is highly variable (between 10% and 90%) and often considered acceptable by conservation advocates, as is the by-kill of native bird species. This would be easier to justify if eradication of possums were possible, but unfortunately this is not the case. There are available tools to minimise the by kill of other species and of particular significance are repellents that reduces the likelihood of game animals ingesting 1080 baits. The NZPHA advocates strongly that all agencies use such tools to minimise the unnecessary by kill of game animals.
- While the documented recovery of native birds following successful possum control can be argued as " the ends justifying the means," the implications of game species ingesting pesticides either accidentally or deliberately are substantial.
Animal welfare. The perception that sub-lethal doses may result in unacceptable suffering in game species presents a potential risk. Irrespective of scientific argument, any debate held in the public domain, has the potential to raise considerable concerns about humane standards operating in this country. The poisoning of dogs has had a major effect on public perceptions and the NZPHA advocates strongly for an antidote for dogs be researched.
Residues. Whilst not directly presenting a threat to the farmed venison trade, given the application of systems and residue monitoring programmes in place, any activity which may result in game meat being associated with a potential residue risk has the ability to cause considerable difficulties in the marketplace. Discerning consumers worldwide are particularly cautious following recent food safety scares in Europe.
Hunted game for private consumption is not subjected to the same levels of monitoring as processed meat and the possibility of contamination poses a real risk. Residues in carcasses can have a major effect on dogs and necessitates the closing of areas for pig hunting for a long period until these carcasses have decomposed sufficiently.
International perceptions of the "clean green" status of New Zealand. This status underpins the marketing of the majority of New Zealand's exports and can be directly attributed to much of the current increase in primary product returns. Any practice that leads consumers to question this status or provides ammunition for competitor nations to impose non-tariff trade barriers, will have severe repercussions for the marketing of New Zealand products.
Offences and Penalties. There have been many instances of non-compliance with consents issued for the application of 1080. Even when breaches are readily identified there have been few prosecutions and in the associations view there needs to be a higher degree of monitoring,offences need to be prosecuted and penalties increased. The current situation has led to agencies fundamentally paying lip service to consent conditions
The NZPHA is concerned that there is no clearly enunciated statement on the use of 1080 in New Zealand. It urges all agencies with statutory responsibility for conservation and pest control (DoC, Ministry for the Environment, MAF, Animal Health Board, Regional Councils) to establish a common policy and operating protocols to ensure consistent application and defensible standards. The absence of a national policy has resulted in:
- Different agendas between agencies.
- Public confusion and concern.
- Inconsistency of application.
- Pressure to halt use of 1080 before alternatives found
Based on the Above, The New Zealand Pig Hunting Association
Advocates for the general policy of reducing the use of toxins, including 1080, in our environment.
Opposes the indiscriminate use of 1080 poison
Acknowledges the need to use 1080 to control possum populations for both conservation and bovine Tb control reasons until such time as other control methods are developed and implemented.
The Association maintains that there is no justification to use 1080 for the control of game animals in New Zealand and opposes such use. (Note: There may be extreme circumstances of total de-population where poisoning could be justified on a case by case basis)
The Association strongly advocates for a national policy for the use of 1080,which has regard to animal welfare, residue safety, marketing and tourism perceptions, consistency of application,adoption of best practice, enforcement of consent conditions and greater penalties for infringements.
The Association supports the allocation of sufficient resources to finding more acceptable alternatives to the use of toxins in the environment including reducing the susceptibility of deer and cattle to Tb.
Until alternate instruments for control (or preferably, eradication) are implemented, the Association requires assurance that the application of 1080 is carried out in ways that:
- Are consistent nationally by all agencies.
- Ensures that there is no possibility of residues entering the food production system or food consumed from recreationally harvested animals.
- Is species specific and minimises the by-kill of game animals
- Ensures humane standards in the kill of target species, and avoids sub-lethal doses in non-target species especially the killing of pig hunting dogs
- Minimises negative effects on the environment.