The Jane Goodall Institute denounces the Predator Free 2050 and Aerial Poison campaigns as unethical

Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa welcomes the publication of a new article published by the Jane Goodall Institute and the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

The Ethical Cost of Predator Free New Zealand 2050: Suffering in the Name of Conservation
calls the New Zealand campaign “unethical, unnecessary and unrealistic”.

“This eradication program is causing a prolonged agony of intense suffering for millions of animals. In addition to target animals such as opossums, rats and stoats, poisoning victims also include endangered native birds, farm animals and pets, especially dogs.”

The document calls for an immediate ban on the highly toxic chemicals 1080 Sodium Monofluoroacetate and Brodifacoum used by the Department of Conservation (DOC) in aerial operations over hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest in New Zealand each year. Instead, the author argues that “the New Zealand government should invest in alternative and compassionate conservation solutions, such as fenced sanctuaries, birth control methods and translocations.”

Asha Andersen, Aotearoa’s Flora and Fauna administrator, said today that Flora and Fauna are delighted to see this international newspaper calling on the New Zealand government to end aerial poisoning and reassessing the slash-and-burn mentality of the Predator Free 2050 campaign.

“It is shocking that DOC still shows so little ecological knowledge regarding the true effects of chemical poisons. There is a complete lack of compassion for animals and the suffering they endure, not to mention the damage done to communities living next to poisoned forests or the impact on access to wild foods and medicine. This is compounded by DOC’s failure to properly consult with those affected by operations or to recognize harm when it is reported.

Andersen said the so-called consultation process has been questioned time and again as a complete farce, with the DOC overriding local objections, and even lying about the support they have for carrying out such poisonous operations in the first place.

“Earlier this month, a 1080 aerial poison operation was carried out on Moehau, a sacred mountain in the Coromandel Peninsula, despite the establishment of a Rahui by local mana whenua who refuse the use of poison on their land,” Andersen said.

“For Maori, this is a clear breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and runs counter to traditional practices that seek to protect the Wairua and Mauri from whenua and taonga species. The DOC simply does not account for the widespread collateral damage that poison operations create, let alone intergenerational damage or impacts on our climate.

“It is also important to note that as the global economic recession deepens, the impact on New Zealand is likely to be severe. The ineffective and harmful use of aerial poisons is an outrageous waste of our money and prevents citizens from tapping into free and invaluable natural resources such as water, wild food and medicine without significant health risks.

Flora and Fauna said the ethics of the Predator Free 2050 campaign had been carefully and scientifically questioned by the Jane Goodall Institute. But acknowledging that introduced animals are also sentient beings has not conflicted with the development of alternatives that so many in New Zealand are calling for.

“If the leaders of government and the Department of Conservation genuinely listened to the resounding calls for change, we might have a chance to find real solutions to our conservation problems. The poisoning of our forests must stop and this document clearly demonstrates why and shows how we can start moving forward in a sustainable and environmentally sound way.

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The Ethical Cost of Predator Free New Zealand 2050: Suffering in the Name of Conservation

Koen Margodt, Ph.D.

More than 1080 poison airdrops this year include the Hunua Ranges, where much of Auckland city gets its water supply. The Raukumara Ranges in the Bay of Plenty, Mount Pirongia in the Waikato and even the Waipoua Forest, home of giant Kauri Tane Mahuta in the North.

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