Business Scoop

Is it time to end pig-hunting in New Zealand?

Opinion – Clyde Graf

On the 10th of November, 2017, three members of a Putaruru family sat down to what could have easily been their last meal. A juicy pork curry, crafted from a free-ranging wild boar, removed from one of New Zealands pristine forests.On the 10th of November, 2017, three members of a Putaruru family sat down to what could have easily been their last meal. A juicy pork curry, crafted from a free-ranging wild boar, removed from one of New Zealand’s pristine forests.

Fast forward three weeks and the outcome is astounding. Two children lucky to have missed the meal, three adults lucky to be alive, and those government departments responsible for saving people, preventing food contamination, and poisoning animals, all doing everything they can to avoid stating the real cause. Here’s the link to the video interview with the Kochumman family …

So what did cause this extraordinary chain of events? Well that’s easy to answer. The human desire to make a living, to hunt and gather and to feed the family. Surely there’s no better place in the world to live that dream than in New Zealand?

Forty years ago New Zealand was that land of milk and honey. Any man or woman could hunt and gather food from a forest without the slightest fear of being poisoned. Any man could sell a wild pig, and many men sold thousands of wild deer. The industry of exporting wild game from New Zealand was thriving. No one got sick, no one feared the toxins and the contaminated food chain that now exists. Every bushman and his city-folk buddy could make a dollar from the forest and eat from the forest. Rural communities were happy, healthy and thriving.

Then the bureaucrats arrived, with their “pest” propaganda agendas, and their desire for huge budgets to impregnate the fear of the mammalian predators into the minds of the unsuspecting, naïve New Zealand public.

Fast forward 40 years and here we are in 2018, a once peaceful, poison-free and fun loving nation with abundant birdlife – now a nation adorned in poison warning signs, declining bird populations, and with ongoing contaminated water alerts.

We now have communities so divided that long-time family friends have become enemies, alienated because of their differing views on whether 1080 poison should be defended or defeated. A fun-loving, caring nation split down the middle by poison, and the bureaucracies that distribute and promote it.

Over 75% of New Zealand’s state forests and national parks are now aerially poisoned with 1080 poison every two to seven years. But are these aerial poisoning campaigns dangerous? Ian Shaw is a well-known New Zealand Professor of Toxicology at the University of Canterbury. When discussing 1080, he stated that “it’s the most non-specific of pesticides I know. Even DDT is more specific than 1080. I am very worried about the non-specific effects of it among animals, and I would very much rather New Zealand didn’t use it.”

In a recent letter provided to Waikato Regional Councillor Kathy White – dated 07 February 2018 – – and with regard to the recent wild boar poisoning case, Professor Shaw closed by stating … “In summary, I find the investigative strategy for this case somewhat awry. The symptoms point to 1080 poisoning not BT (botulism) poisoning, but the investigation seemed to blindly follow the BT route …” Ian Shaw was referring to Waikato District Health Board’s strong assertion in the media that the family had botulism poisoning.

New Zealand has been using 1080 poison for over 30 years. Surprisingly, there’s still wildlife to be killed. The Department of Conservation talk about “aerial treatment” as if it’s some kind of health tonic, while Forest & Bird claim it’s the same harmless substance that’s contained in salt and vinegar chips. You only need to watch a video of a dog or deer dying of 1080 poisoning to know that it’s far from harmless, and their defense of the poison is far from the truth. The rhetoric is driven by big budgets and an aversion to introduced animals. Their defense of mass-poisoning forests and waterways is extreme and irrational.

However, this opinion piece isn’t about the devastating effects 1080 poison is having on some of our native species like kiwi and kea. It’s about the growing danger of secondary and tertiary poisoning, to you and your family members.

Waikato Regional Council has for decades issued resource consents that permit 1080 poison to be spread across land and directly into water in the Waikato region. When asked if the 14 sitting councilors had viewed the recent video testimony of the wild boar-poisoned Kochumman family, after being provided it days earlier, only Stu Husband, Jane Hennebry, Tipa Mahuta and Kathy White stated they had. Yet in their Long Term Plan just passed through Council, 10 of the 14 councilors voted in favour to increase poisoning operations, including the aerial poisoning of deer and wallabies across the Kaimai and Mamaku Ranges. The Kaimai Range has never been aerially poisoned. This “blinkers-on” approach to governance is concerning, given that three people have just been fighting for their life after eating contaminated meat.

Waikato Regional Council also issues tons of brodifacoum bait for hand distribution by unsuspecting community groups, to kill possums and rats. However, the Department of Conservation states that brodifacoum poison shouldn’t be used where pigs are present, because they will scavenge poisoned rats, possums and birds. Perhaps the Waikato Regional Council isn’t aware ratepayers consume wild pork.

Waikato Regional Councillor Kathy White recently asked Auckland Council, via an OIA, to disclose information about how many tested wild pigs contained brodifacoum poison. Their response revealed that 13 of 14 wild pigs tested contained residues of brodifacoum poison, demonstrating the contamination is widespread.

In the Australian document “Poisoning of Feral Pigs with Sodium Fluoroacetate (1080)” it states “that it is important to remember that some pigs can take up to 48 hours to die and may travel up to 8 kilometres from the baiting site.”

The risk for communities that gather wild foods from rural areas is from both aerial, and bait station operations using 1080 and brodifacoum bait, both of which cause persistent environmental contamination. Animals eat poison from bait stations and die over a period of months. Wild pigs scavenge poisoned carcasses. MPI states that no one should eat wild game from a place that has been “treated” with brodifacoum, for three years. How many ratepayers are aware of this warning?

The Government-owned warning label states that baits should not be dropped directly into water. It also says that just over 2 x twelve-gram baits will kill an adult human, and less than one bait will kill a child. Around 166 million of these toxic cereal food pellets are spread by helicopters across New

Zealand’s forests, and directly into all forest waterways, every year. That’s an awful lot of killing power being spread in our environment.

Based on the way the Kochumman family debacle has transpired, it could now be determined that 1080 poison is New Zealand’s perfect murder weapon. “Undetectable” poison permeated through a delicious roast pork or venison, served on a cloudy Sunday. Hospitals don’t check for it, the Department of Conservation denies it’s toxic, the police don’t interview the person that supplied the toxic food, and the Ministry for Primary Industries, in charge of food safety, says it didn’t bother testing the frozen wild pigs that may have contained the poison – because there was more than one pig to test.

It’s time that the pig hunter, the person that supplied the poisoned pig comes out with the truth about what really happened and where he got the pig from. On the 4th of February, 2018, the pig hunter stated in a conversation that no one from the police, MPI or the Ministry of Health had asked him about the poisoned pig and where it was sourced. Three months after the event, and no contact. The source, and cause of the contamination of the wild pig is important for all families that consume wild foods. There is growing evidence that pigs are building resistance to 1080 poison, and can contain high doses without dying. This then increases the risk of secondary and tertiary poisoning from wild pigs consumed at the family dinner table.

Hundreds of hospital documents have now been reviewed, and more and more the cause of the poisoning of the Kochumman family is pointing to 1080 poison. The doctors’ notes state it, and the symptoms show it. But our government agencies also know that if 1080 poison was declared the cause, there could be huge ramifications, and the impacts on exports and tourism could be immense. So it is in some ways understandable that they are behaving so deceptively.

On the 11th of February 2018, the Acting CEO of the Waikato District Health Board – Derek Wright – responded to a member of the public about the Kochumman poisoned family’s case. He stated, while refusing to believe 1080 poison could have been the cause, that … “If you google symptoms of 1080 poisoning you will see these come in between 40 mins to 3 hours after ingestion. We know that this family became unwell around 6 & half hours after eating the meal. The timescale has also been widely reported in the media.” This bureaucratic ignorance demonstrates the limited knowledge the heads of district health boards have about 1080 poison. If Mr Wright did actually “google” the effects of 1080 poisoning, not only does the onset – between 1 and 29 hours – fit perfectly, but so do all of the other symptoms the family endured. The question on many peoples lips is, how many people have been poisoned with 1080 in New Zealand and been incorrectly diagnosed.

Is it time to end pig hunting in New Zealand, or is it time to take back our right to hunt and gather, our right to sell wild game, and our right to feed our families from our “pristine forests”?

Is it time to make New Zealand the place that our misguided bureaucracies claim that it is – 100% pure? Is it time to remind the bureaucracies and the government departments that they are funded by the people, and are accountable to the people?

No, it’s not time to end the gathering of wild foods and game in New Zealand, but it is time to fight back and make New Zealand the wildlife paradise it was 50 years ago. Let’s make this pending-paradise 100%, 1080 poison-free once again, and get rid of the policies and bureaucratic mentality that push poisons

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