The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has again clarified its stance against the use of 1080 poison to control pest species like possums and rats.
The use of 1080 has increasingly become a contentious issue in New Zealand, with several protests carried out last year by anti-1080 groups and the SPCA has been vocal about its opposition to 1080 for several years.
In a post published yesterday, the SPCA wrote that it remains strongly against the use of sodium fluoroacetate, which is widely used by the Department of Conservation, due to the pain and suffering it causes to animals.
"We would like to see a ban on the use of poisons such as 1080, because these substances cause such intense and prolonged suffering to animals that we believe their use can never be justified," the group wrote.
"There should be greater emphasis on looking for solutions that would enable species who cannot be completely removed to co-exist in the environment instead.
"SPCA also encourages the research and development of humane alternatives to species control, including the replacement of lethal methods with humane non-lethal methods, such as limiting reproductive abilities.
"The welfare of all animals should be viewed equally, and people should recognise that they deserve protection from suffering pain or distress, regardless of the species or where they came from.
"Whether an animal is native or introduced, any measures taken to manage their impact or numbers must recognize that these animals are sentient and have the capacity to experience pain, suffering, or distress, regardless of whether they are viewed or classed as a pest."
FOREST AND BIRD LASHES OUT AT SPCA'S 'FLAWED LOGIC'
Forest and Bird CEO Kevin Hague responded to the statement today, calling it a blow to the SPCA's credibility.
Mr Hague said the SPCA has failed to understand how nature works in the wild, having only treated domestic animals such as cats or dogs, and said they will be seeking a meeting with the society to discuss the issue.
"While the idea of stoats and rats peacefully coexisting with native birds sounds great, the reality is that an estimated 25 million native birds, eggs and chicks are cruelly eaten alive by introduced predators every year in New Zealand," Mr Hague said.
"This is the terrible death that countless native animals across New Zealand suffer every night.
"The SPCA’s position on 1080 is a blow to their credibility. It’s sad to see them promoting flawed logic whose outcome is the extinction through being eaten alive of treasured animals like our kiwi, kererū, and kōkako.
"Without scientific, ethical and precision pest control, of which 1080 is a key tool, there is no way to protect our native animals from the overwhelming numbers of introduced predators.
"Giving up 1080 would lead to an ecocide of huge proportions in New Zealand, and the SPCA need to understand this is the outcome of their pest control position."
1080 A 'CRITICAL TOOL', CONSERVATION MINISTER SAYS
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has supported the use of 1080, saying last month that it is a "critical tool" in the fight against species which damage the environment and attack native species.
In 2017-18, $4.8 million was provided for 1080 alternative research, and that investment increased to over $7 million in 2018-19.
"The best alternative at the moment is trapping, which is already used extensively across New Zealand," Ms Sage said in Parliament in December.
"The Government is supporting a range of research into different compounds, including things like PAPP, which is very effective for stoats; things like sodium nitrate; microencapsulated zinc phosphate paste; and also into traps like self-resetting traps," Ms Sage said.
When asked if she supported or saw a future for alternatives to 1080, Ms Sage said "absolutely".
"Aerial 1080 continues to be a critical tool if we are to prevent the regional extinction of kākā, kiwi, and species like that, but alternative research is well under way."