Home' Greymouth Star : January 14th 2019 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, January 14, 2019
he SPCA has again entered
the toxic arena of the 1080
pest control debate, claiming
the use of toxins as a control
method for environmental
pests is inhumane. It is calling
for the use of this toxin to be banned, with
greater research to go into more humane
Let us not deny the SPCA has a valid
point, and as legal guardian and advocate of
animal rights it is well within its mandate
and expertise to take this position. Instead
of shooting the messenger, let us carefully
consider the message, however contrary it
may be to the current paradigm of pest and
predator control in New Zealand.
Any animal’s death, be it a target species
or a non-target, following ingestion of
poison is unlikely to be a pleasant one
and appealing to qualifiers like “relatively”
humane does little to deny this inconvenient
It is undeniable that 1080, and other
toxins, do not need to meet the same
humane standards imposed on other pest
control methods, such as kill traps. To be
considered humane, authorities demand
death in traps occurs in as little as five
minutes. Such demands are stringently
measured when new trapping technologies
seek approval as humane. The National
Animal Welfare Advisory Committee’s
testing regime for traps demands no failures
over 10 attempts to meet humane criteria.
The European Union, which has strict
rules, is working to outlaw Fenn traps — a
trap used in New Zealand for stoat control
— for specific species, as they do not meet its
humane standards. O ur own Department of
Conser vation moved away from Fenn traps
many years ago because of humane concerns.
New traps were developed to replace them.
If we are, as advocated by some pro-toxin
commentators, to use the “facts” of science
to dispel the anti-1080 arguments then we
also cannot ignore the “facts” of science to
bury the inconvenient truth that toxins — in
particular, the aerial distribution of 1080
and brodifacoum — do not meet the same
standards for a humane predator death
demanded of other methods of pest control.
Poisoned animals take hours or days to
die. Furthermore, aerial application of toxin
is indiscriminate and can have significant
impacts on non-target species, some of
which are fully protected native species.
In the past few days we have heard
counter-claims and attacks against the
SPCA from the usual pro-1080 lobbyists.
They include arguments of the “suffering”
inflicted on species from introduced
mammalian predators, or the inhumane
death of birds in the mouths of predators
(also no doubt unpleasant). A particularly
spurious line is the hierarchy of species
that apparently justifies inhumane killing
techniques for introduced species.
As humans at the top of the food chain,
we alone in the world have ethics and
morals. We must take responsibility for all
our control methods, including those used
for feral cats, rats, mice, possums, deer, pigs,
goats, stoats, ferrets, weasels and any other
As a social scientist who researches and
works in “science in society”, including pest
and predator management, I have met only
two people who have argued, in their case
on religious grounds, for the right of the rat
to live in New Zealand’s bush. Most people
agree rats need to be controlled and, where
possible, eradicated for the good of our
valuable and unique native flora and fauna.
People would love a New Zealand that
was rid of rats, possums, stoats and other
predators. However, there is disagreement
about cats, deer and pigs, which is likely why
they are not included in Predator Free NZ.
The controversy, however, lies not around
why but rather how we eradicate, with the
indiscriminate aerial distribution of toxins
evoking the highest level of concern, as the
SPCA has said for some years.
Over the past days commentators have
repeatedly relied on the outdated argument
that opposition to 1080 occurs because
people are ignorant of the facts. It is
assumed this perceived ignorance can be
addressed by education. Such condescending
simplification of this socially complex issue
destroys opportunities for meaningful,
honest and robust dialogue. Yet that is
exactly what we need in order to work
through this minefield.
Socially complex arguments are not
arguments about facts. They are arguments
about values and morals and choices.
Scientific evidence can and should play
a role, but this will not resolve the clash
of values we see around 1080. We need
engagement, listening and tolerance of
alternative, reasoned points of view. If we
cannot show evidence of this maturity
now with 1080, what hope will we have
as science ventures into other more
controversial pest control technologies, such
as gene editing?
In the current climate, the extremes of pro-
and anti-lobby groups stifle good discussion.
The anti-1080 extremist views, only a small
sector of the anti-1080 lobby, occupy too
much of the media’s attention. The pro-
lobby group, meanwhile, spends too much
time side-tracked into counterclaims of
“facts” to use against this extremism.
Organisations raising valid questions,
like the SPCA, are painted as extremists,
but they are not. The SPCA has a right
and probably a legal obligation to question
current practices around the use of toxins,
however inconvenient the truth may be.
New Zealand’s isolation risks leading
us to exist in an echo chamber. I have
just completed a six-week trip visiting
environmental pest control projects on six
inhabited offshore islands in New Zealand,
Australia and the United Kingdom. The
projects I visited varied in their scale of
operation, species targeted and methods of
I saw incredible successes, particularly in
the UK in difficult terrain with large-scale
ground-based control programmes using
bait stations and trapping with live and
kill traps. I saw the value of working with
communities in an open, honest, transparent
and flexible way. Scientists and agencies who
undertake pest control work are not neutral
and they have profound effects, both positive
and negative, on the communities in which
New Zealand pest and predator control
needs to be reframed away from the kill
everything or lose everything dichotomy.
This stifles innovation and dialogue. Instead,
let us look at a smorgasbord of pest control
ideas, even at the large scale, and work
overtime to eliminate non-target impacts of
the use of toxins. Let us acknowledge the
double standard that applies to humaneness
for trapping and poisoning, strive to develop
toxins which meet the same standards we
demand of traps and open the discussion to
talk about the targeting of specific predator
Let us see the SPCA’s call as aspirational
as it is not talking about a ban tomorrow.
Let us not deny the ecological benefits
of predator suppression, where the goal
may not be zero predators. Let us explore
innovations which are in tune with
communities, welcome respected agencies
like the SPCA to the table and work with
them rather than attempt to marginalise
If we can move a step closer to this
enlightenment then the SPCA may just
possibly have made a contribution to this
debate which has a bigger impact than
simply calling for a ban on the use of 1080.
New Zealand has made huge and
internationally important advances in
environmental pest control. Let us not stop
now. To rest on our laurels risks the voice
against a total ban on toxins becoming more
strident. Agencies’ use of toxins is dependent
on communities granting them a social
licence to operate and the granting of this is
more precarious than some may recognise.
Let us start by respecting the SPCA’s right
to take a position that raises valid questions,
however uncomfortable the answers may be.
If history has taught us anything it should
be that tolerance and inclusion will lead us
to better outcomes. Dogma and division,
even from those who purport to hold the
moral high ground, will lead only to conflict
that may very well destroy exactly what we
are trying to protect.
Dr Marie McEntee is a social scientist
in the School of Environment at the
University of Auckland who coordinates a
‘Science in Society’ module of courses.
This story first appeared on Newsroom
(www.newsroom.co.nz) and is reproduced
here with permission.
Instead of shooting the messenger, it is worth considering what the SPCA says about 1080, MARIE McENTEE
writes for Newsroom.
The SPCA’s inconvenient truth
A deer poisoned by 1080.
The Republican head of the Senate
Judiciary Committee said he plans to ask
the Federal Bureau of Investigation about
a report it launched a probe into whether
President Donald Trump has been
working on Russia’s behalf, suggesting
the agency may have gone too far.
“I am going to ask the FBI director was
there a counter-intelligence investigation
opened up regarding the president as
being a potential agent of the Russians?
I find it astonishing,” Senator Lindsey
“If this really did happen, Congress
needs to know about it,” he added. “ How
could the FBI do that? What kinds of
checks and balances are there?”
The New York Times reported on
Saturday the FBI opened the counter-
intelligence investigation in 2017 after
Trump fired then-FBI Director James
Comey out of concern the president ’s
actions may have presented a threat to
Comey at the time was leading an
investigation into Russia’s alleged
interference in the 2016 US presidential
election. US intelligence agencies have
said Moscow tried to tip the election to
Trump. Russia has denied interfering,
and Trump has said repeatedly there was
no collusion between his campaign and
The Times reported the counter-
intelligence probe was sparked in
part by growing alarm about Trump’s
behaviour, including comments he made
suggesting he fired Comey over the
Russia investigation, which is now being
led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump rejected the Times story, saying
it was “the most insulting article I’ve
ever had written”.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who
previously ser ved as Trump’s Central
Intelligence Agency director, blasted the
“The notion that President Trump is a
threat to American national security is
Democratic lawmakers said the report
underscored the need for legislation to
protect the Mueller probe.
“I do think it’s curious that throughout
that whole summer when these
investigations started, you had (Russian
President) Vladimir Putin’s policies
almost being parroted by Donald
Trump,” Senator Mark Warner, the
top Democrat on the intelligence
committee, said on the CNN State of
the Union programme.
Democrats also expressed concern
about a report in the Washington Post at
the weekend on alleged efforts by Trump
to conceal details about his conversations
with Putin. The paper reported Trump
took notes from his interpreter and
instructed the person not to discuss the
details of his conversation with others.
“ When he takes the interpreter’s notes
and wants to destroy them so no one
can see what was said, it raises serious
questions about the relationship between
this president and Putin,” the Senate’s
No 2 Democrat, Dick D urbin, said.
Senator Chris Coons, a Democratic
member of the judiciary committee, said
he plans to press Trump’s nominee for
attorney-general, William Barr, for a
pledge to let Mueller complete his work.
“I would need a firm commitment that
he will not allow any interference in the
Mueller investigation,” Coons said. He
also said Barr must allow Mueller to
release a copy of his final report to the
public. — Reuters
Poo, pesticides found in e-cigarettes
Poo, pesticides and nicotine are
being inhaled by smokers of nicotine-
free electronic cigarettes, a study has
Researchers analysed the liquid in
e-cigarettes sold on-line and over-
the-counter as nicotine-free and
found 60% contained the highly
All held traces of a toxic chemical
2-chlorophenol — commonly
used in insecticides, herbicides and
Alexander Larcombe said he was
surprised to find the toxin as it is
known to irritate human airways and
“ It’s classified as acutely toxic,”
It is illegal in Australia to sell
e-liquids which contain nicotine.
A third of the study’s samples held
nicotine levels similar to vaping a
low-dose nicotine e-cigarette.
“ We also found other things —
by-products of animal or human
bodily functions — which indicates
the process of making the e-liquids
might not be as clean as you might
hope,” he said.
Ingredients commonly used to
make flavouring, soaps, detergents
and solvents were also found.
Larcombe said most were benign
food additives but their safety,
when heated between 200degC and
250degC and inhaled, was unknown.
“The real take-home message here
is that people are buying these liquids
unaware of what ’s in them, and
there’s no way they can tell based on
what the label says,” he said.
The study, published in the
Medical Journal of Australia, was a
collaboration between Telethon Kids
Institute, Curtin University and the
University of Western Australia.
Saudi teen welcomed as
‘ brave new Canadian’
An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled
her family last week saying she feared for
her life arrived in Toronto’s international
airport at the weekend after being
granted asylum in Canada, where
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland
welcomed her as a brave new Canadian.
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun grabbed
international attention this week after
she barricaded herself in a Bangkok
airport hotel room to resist being sent
home to her family, which denies any
abuse. Q unun refused to meet her father
and brother, who arrived in Bangkok to
try to take her back to Saudi Arabia.
Qunun arrived at Toronto’s Pearson
International Airport on Saturday,
wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the
word Canada in red, and a blue cap with
the logo of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
which has granted her refugee status.
In her last tweet before leaving for
Toronto, Q unun said, “I did it,” and
posted pictures from inside an aircraft.
Freeland, who received Qunun at the
airport, said Qunun is “a very brave new
A smiling Qunun waved to reporters
as she walked out into the international
arrivals area but did not speak to the
media. After a brief appearance, she was
taken back into the airport terminal.
Canada’s decision to grant asylum
to Q unun comes at a delicate time.
Relations between Ottawa and Riyadh
have been tense after Canada demanded
the immediate release of jailed rights
activists last year, infuriating Saudi
Arabia who retaliated by freezing new
trade with Ottawa.
Qunun, who had initially intended
to seek asylum in Australia, chose
Canada instead because Australia took
too long assessing whether to grant her
“(Australia) takes too long. That ’s why
I went to Canada,” she said in a direct
message before boarding her flight to
Her case has drawn global attention
to Saudi Arabia’s strict social rules,
including a requirement that women
have the permission of a male “guardian”
to travel, which rights groups say can
trap women and girls as prisoners of
abusive families. — Reuters
Starving Syrian mum sets
herself, children on fire
A Syrian mother has attempted
to burn herself and her children to
death at a refugee camp in eastern
Syria after she failed to find food
for her family for three straight
days, a civil defence spokesman
Sundus Fathallah, 28, set herself
and her three star ving children on
fire inside a tent at Rukban refugee
camp on Saturday, spokesman
Khaled al-Ali said.
Other refugees at the camp put
out the fire, which damaged the
tent, and evacuated the woman
and her children to hospital, the
spokesman said overnight.
The woman and her infant were
seriously hurt while the two other
children suffered minor injuries, he
Thousands live under harsh
conditions in Rukban, which is
located in a remote area of the
Syrian desert near the Jordanian
Most of the refugees there fled
areas in eastern Syria that had once
fallen to the Islamic State extremist
group, and were trapped after
Jordanian authorities closed the
Last year, at least 20 people died
because of a lack of medical ser vices
inside the camp. — DPA
Girl ‘has no link to kidnapper’
The grandfather of a north-west
girl held captive for months says
the family has no connection to the
man suspected of kidnapping her
and killing her parents.
Jayme Closs, 13, had been missing
for nearly three months when she
approached a stranger near the
small Wisconsin town of Gordon
on Thursday and pleaded for help.
The door of Jayme’s family home
near Barron 100km away had been
blasted down with a shotgun in
October, her parents gunned down,
and Jayme abducted.
Officers arrested 21-year-old Jake
Thomas Patterson minutes after
Jayme was found, based on the girl’s
description of his vehicle.
Naiberg said no one in the family
“He didn’t know Jayme, he didn’t
know (her parents) Denise or Jim,”
“( Jayme) don’t know him from
Adam. (But) he knew what he was
doing. We don’t know if he was
stalking her or what. Did he see her
The news that Jayme was safe set
off joy and relief in Barron, which
has a population of 3300.
Jayme’s aunt, Jennifer Smith,
posted on Facebook that Jayme was
“ Jayme had a pretty good night
sleep it was great to know she
was next to me all night what a
great feeling to have her home,”
Smith said. “As a family we will get
through all of the healing process
Jayme has. It will be a long road but
we are family strong and we love
this little girl so much. ”
Patterson, who is unemployed
with no criminal record, was
scheduled for an initial court
homicide and kidnapping charges
are expected to be filed. — AP
Asylum seekers thwarted
A tip-off from the Australian Federal
Police has resulted in Malaysian
authorities intercepting an asylum seeker
boat before it could leave with 34 people
on board 10 days ago.
The asylum seekers, including 11
women and seven children, were stopped
as they were about to board a boat with
the promise they would be taken to
either Australia or New Zealand, News
Corp Australia reports.
Three members of a people-smuggling
ring were also arrested in the operation
on January 4.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton
said the threat of asylum seekers arriving
by boat was not over.
“ It is only the coalition’s policies which
have halted the people-smugglers,” he said.
“ Just like Kevin Rudd, if elected
(Opposition leader) Bill Shorten will
change our border policies and the result
will be more boats, more deaths at sea
and more children in detention. He is
not worth the risk at the border.”
A total of 80 people-smuggling ventures
have been disrupted under Operation
Sovereign Borders since September
2013, data shows; 11 in Malaysia, 15 in
Sri Lanka, 53 in Indonesia and one in
Pakistan. — AAP
Jake Thomas Patterson and Jayme Closs.
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