PRESS RELEASE: DOC Poison Repellent Experiments Cost $1m, Appeasing Angry Deer Hunters

Published by Alex Vince on

PRESS RELEASE: $1m poison experiments to appease irate deer hunters

PRESS RELEASE: A report from NZ’s Otago Daily Times (ODT) has revealed that “more than 600,000 animals” were used in experiments over a period of just 24 months. The shocking exposé explains that some of that research entailed testing 1080-laced cereal baits to be used in aerial operations and the addition of deer repellent to baits in a bid to soothe swelling tensions between hunters and government departments.

The Coalition believes that the recently revealed experiments are related to ongoing studies led NZ authorities, such as Landcare Research, and Epro Ltd., a multimillion-dollar Taupō-based contract company that has no website. The experiments are believed to have assessed the minimum effective size of 1080 baits on possum control programs, specifically deer. The company has previously acknowledged that “in today’s social and political environment” the use of 1080 poison “is becoming increasingly controversial and unacceptable to many people”.

“If I was prime minister I would ban it [1080] by lunchtime”.

Former Taupō Mayor Rick Cooper

In the past, similar studies have been conducted by various NZ agencies. The infamous Department of Conservation (DOC) has allegedly spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on repellent studies to avoid the deaths of deer “in a bid to appease hunting groups”. According to internal DOC data obtained under the Official Information Act, the repellent adds “roughly $7 per hectare” to the cost, increasing “the normal bait application cost” by an extra 40%. By the end of 2019, estimates suggest DOC had spent over $1m since studies began in 2014.

A report from the NZ Game Animal Council explained that they had “worked closely with” the NZ Deerstalkers Association and DOC to “secure the use of deer repellent”. It was conducted in efforts to chemically protect vulnerable deer herds during its Battle for Our Birds program, which aerially blankets over 800,000 ha with 1080 poison-laced baits and has since been rebranded under its Predator Free 2050 moniker.

“We have actively lobbied for the development of humane alternatives to 1080 since we formed the Coalition. What we have seen time and time again, however, is a lazy and unacceptable institutional dependency on chemicals. Even though Epro have previously admitted that a growing section of the community has had a gutful and won’t sit idly by anymore, we must make it clear that simply shifting to a different chemical isn’t good enough.

Alex Vince, campaign co-ordinator

Who is Epro?

In 2010, Stuff published a report covering the controversy over 1080 baiting that had “erupted” following the arrest of five protesters caught “interfering with a poison drop”. In Taupō, a town on the shore of a lake on NZ’s northern island, a hoax bomb was “discovered at a firm behind the drops”. The events led Taupō mayor Rick Cooper to publically call out the “gravy train” he believed was “making a small group of people rich”.

Deer believed to have died after ingesting 1080 (Clyde Graf)

“If it looks, smells and acts like collusion…”

Epro’s director and co-owner, Roger Lorigan , is an ex-employee of Environment Waikato whose pest management unit is responsible for issuing “resource consents” for the application of 1080 baiting. The 2010 Stuff report revealed that a former colleague of Mr. Lorigan, Kevin Christie, is also in on the action as owner of Ecofx, an Otorohanga-based firm which has also secured “big contracts” in the past. Not to be outdone, their boss at Environment Waikato, John Simmons, is

“Anti-1080 protestors and dissidents have been demonised or belittled as being ‘beyond reason’ ever since the first bait was dropped. We’ve been aware of the impact 1080 poison since the 1940s. Seven decades later we are still condemned as ‘conspiratorial’

Alex Vince, Coalition co-founder and campaign co-ordinator

Anti-1080 protesters, Seymour Square, Blenheim (Ricky Wilson)

In 2011, the elusive Epro co. had also been embroiled in a drop on forestry workers in the Waimarino Forest when the helicopter appeared to be “in the wrong place”.

Since the 1990s, Australia and NZ has been in lock-step when it comes to poison. Together, we are responsible for close to 100% of its use worldwide. It seems there’s something in the water of the Pacific Ocean that has made our governments gaga for dropping baits laced with a toxin nearly no other nation permits this poison past its borders.

Alex Vince, Coalition co-founder and campaign co-ordinator

Deer believed to have died after ingesting 1080 (Clyde Graf)

Further information

  1. The Otago Daily Times report is available here.
  2. Information derived from internal DOC data is available here.
  3. Testing statistics published by the Ministry for Primary Industries is available here.
  4. Further information about the Battle for Our Birds program is available here.
  5. Related study project references and links: R-80568-3, LC1011, LC0304-021, LC0304/074, LC0506/044, LC0607/147, R-80568-01, R-80568-3, R-10710 & R-10743.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *