There is a simple reason that 21st century New Zealand has so much difficulty eradicating its unwanted species.
It is because the instant that our Government initiates the execution of a pest-eradication programme, invariably there is a team of meddling eco-warriors to step forward and interrupt that process.
As a result, for example, no planned distribution of 1080 poison in recent history has ever been carried out to completion; as a result of this, the effects of every 1080 poison drop in recent history are never as complete as they could or indeed, as they would, be, if the process were allowed to run its recommended prolonged course, thus render a full species extermination.
According to ecologists, “…But 1080 is immediately devastating to birds and other native forest wildlife.”
According to me, “…Rats, stoats, possums, and other introduced forest vermin are devastating to wildlife too, only the effects of these pests are not just ‘immediate’, they’re ongoing.”
The projected possum population in New Zealand’s North Island numbers as many as 25 animals per hectare, across favourable conditions such as scrub gullies bordering farmland, and those numbers tend to be more prone to inflation than reduction.
Yet unlike America’s native opossum, which can regularly give birth to veritable litters of young, Australia’s (New Zealand’s) native possum generally only reproduces once every annum, and usually only gives birth to one, and typically no more than two, baby possums.
According to ecologists, “…But look at the amount of native wildlife 1080 harms versus the amount of pests it actually kills – the benefits of 1080 just don’t add up.”
According to me: “…Let DOC distribute the poison over the required area, at the required intervals, and at the required dosage, then rather than becoming immediately hysterical about ‘preservation of your beloved native forests’ and staging elaborate protests thereby curtailing that particular 1080 poison drop, give the poison a chance to do its job – it won’t totally kill off any wildlife but given time it will totally kill off the vermin destroying your forest, and better yet 1080 only needs to render an unwanted animal extinct once to chalk up its win.”
Unlike other vermin such as rabbits or mice, our possums are decidedly not prolific breeders, yet somehow these hideous rodents are still considered one of New Zealand’s most destructive, hence costly, pests.
Our nation has spent well over $100 million dollars in recent years in the hope of eradicating possums, yet those possums are still a firmly established plight.
Therefore, when the Department of Conservation is ready to stop pussy-footing about and get truly serious about knocking off possums throughout New Zealand, all this nation needs to do is commit to sustained 1080 poison distribution for two, perhaps three, possum breeding cycles, then sit back and watch the native wildlife flourish.
If New Zealand’s team of resident malcontents would agree to just back off for a few years we can easily eradicate possums; we can also stop wasting DOC funding and resources on pointless half-arsed attempts at merely diluting New Zealand’s possum population.
This is actually such a small issue with such a simple solution, and if ecologists truly wanted to benefit wildlife – rather than just causing a fuss and ‘having their voices heard’ so they can feel as though they’re ‘doing their bit towards preserving nature’ – they would pull their heads out of their arses and they would permit a process of sustained possum eradication.
Short term, no question, native wildlife will suffer; long term, ultimately, you’ll have saved native New Zealand.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by E Cho Dipchit
Photography by Pullin Head-Uttas