The hysteria, hypocrisy and hyperbole in the 1080 conversation of late has been quite astonishing.

What most people do not know is that stoats and weasels were released on these islands against the expert advice of Professor Alfred Newton, Professor of Zoology at Cambridge University.

In 1876 he was writing to the Otago Daily Times and the colonial powers, here begging them not to release stoats and weasels in Aotearoa. He warned that these animals would quickly switch prey from rabbits to our unique and flightless native birds.

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At the time native birds like kakapo where still in fairly high numbers. But the conservationist arguments were ignored, and his warnings became a tragic reality.

Shipments of stoats and weasels from England were released to kill rabbits that were destroying pasture in Otago. Their release was for purely economic reasons, and because of great pressure from farmers (who had already released ferrets).

In 1903 the first weasels were recorded in Whangarei. They had probably expanded north from the Wairarapa.

Due to that economic agenda, we now have about 150 kakapo left, with millions of taxpayer dollars being spent to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

Stoats also kill 95 per cent of our kiwi chicks in areas with no pest control, and slaughter dozens of other native birds, like kakariki and kokako. Even household chooks are not safe from the serial killers that need a constant diet of protein to survive.

Roll forward 150 years or so from that disastrous decision, and once again conservationists are being ignored. Forest & Bird, WWF, Birds NZ, Bay Bush Action and many other organisations who are doing all they can to protect our native taonga on the ground, support the use of biodegradable, naturally occurring fluoroacetate (the active ingredient in 1080) for landscape scale protection of native wildlife from predators like stoats, rats and possums.

In comparison, why is there any trust in organisations that want to farm public conservation land and national parks for fur or for sport over those who genuinely want to see our native wildlife flourish? It defies belief. But most worrying is, will the anti-1080 movement create another tragedy of ignorance?

CRAIG SALMON
Paihia