Some road-kill birds used in 1080 protest, says protester

The AM Show 14/09/2018

Some of the dead birds placed at Parliament in the anti-1080 demonstration were road-kill, a protester claims.

Anti-1080 protesters placed dead birds, including a kererū, and other small animals surrounded by "fake" 1080 pellets on the steps of Parliament, earlier this week.

Alan Gurden, co-organiser of Poisoned Nation hikoi protest on Wednesday, told The AM Show on Friday that some of the dead birds were road-kill.

"The birds came from the West Coast after a 2014 drop, but their exact location I'm not sure of," Mr Gurden said, telling The AM Show two weka, one quail and one kererū were road-kill, while all the other animals came from a 1080 drop zone. 

"I checked with the person that supplied those the other day as to which ones were possibly poisoned from that drop zone and which ones were road-kill," he said. 

But preliminary findings have found five of the protected birds placed on Parliament's steps were blugeoned to death, and Speaker Trevor Mallard has laid a complaint with police and the Department of Conservation.

Environment Minister David Parker said the dead birds would be tested to determine whether they had been killed by 1080, as the protesters alleged.

Dead birds at the 1080 demonstration. Photo: Newshub.

Mr Gurden is opposed to using 1080 because animals exposed to it "suffer", and "depending on the size of the creature and how much they've eaten, it can be many hours of torture and an agonising death for them, thrashing around on the forest floor."

The Department of Conservation (DoC), Federated Farmers and Forest and Bird have all come out in support of using 1080. However protesters are continuing their campaign, marching to Parliament this week to demand a national ban.

Mr Gurden says New Zealand does need to get rid of some predators, but said 1080 is being backed by a "propaganda campaign that has been designed to create a false crisis narrative for people, that these possums are eating baby birds and eggs at an alarming rate of something like 20 million birds per year."

He said trapping, shooting and hunting are the best ways to catch predators, "like the old ways".

"We don't have the right to call a creature a pest and kill it. Every life form has the right to a quick death and a humane death not a cruel one."

But Duncan Garner said relying on trapping pests "would never work" because of the vastness of the country. He said 1080 allows pests in remote areas to be targeted, and told Mr Gurden he has failed to give the county "an answer to what the alternative is".

Mr Gurden doubled down on his theory that setting traps for pests in New Zealand is the least cruel was of killing them, and criticised 1080 drops for "taking large chunks of the food web out, like hawks and predators, that keep those rats and stoats under control".

Environmental experts say 25 million native birds' eggs are eaten by rats, stoats and possums every year, threatening to replace our birdsong with silence. And the Department of Conservation insists if 1080 didn't work, they wouldn't use it.

Watch the full interview with Alan Gurden above.

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.