KAKA Press Release:
Another Wake-up Call
Over 7600 people, including some 6200 West Coast residents (over 25% of the adult resident population), signed the passive petition hosted by businesses across the Coast on behalf of KAKA (Karameans Advocating Kahurangi Action) in 2008. The petition called for an end to aerial 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) operations. It also urged the Animal Health Board (AHB), Department of Conservation (DOC) and the West Coast Regional Council (which provides the consents for aerial 1080 operations) to use funding ear-marked for aerial operations on alternative control programs.
As noted in the Greymouth Star on 6 March 2009 “the petition was not simply about numbers”. It had other potentially more important objectives, including: raising awareness of the 1080 debate; linking like-minded individuals and groups; adding to public pressure on DOC, the AHB and Regional Council; and providing valuable information in the lead-up to council elections in 2010. These objectives have been met.
1080 proponents may try to draw comfort from the fact that most of the Coast’s adult population did not sign the petition. That would simply demonstrate a lack of understanding of petitions vis-à-vis other methodologies (e.g. surveys and focus groups) used for gauging public opinion. As noted in the Greymouth Star on 6 March 2009 “the [petition] results are far better than the incredibly popular anti-smacking’ petition, which was signed by about 1 in 11 Kiwis …’’. All the same KAKA would welcome such an interpretation by pro-1080 advocates: a misguided opponent is a wrong-footed opponent.
The petition results, alongside other recent developments (including the AHB’s late 2008 telephone survey), are a clear indication that a substantial majority of West Coast residents oppose the invidious practice of aerial distribution of 1080 or other dangerous toxins. They show that proponents of aerial distribution, despite the publicly funded resources available to them, are rapidly losing the public debate.
The petition results and other developments are also a wake-up call to DOC, the AHB, Regional Council and politicians (including local councilors) who support aerial 1080 operations. Rather than ‘business-as-usual’ the interests of all stakeholders, whether pro or anti-1080, with valid concerns about bovine TB and wider pest control issues, will be best served by the rapid introduction of alternative practices. Public bodies with foresight rather than hindsight should already be implementing alternatives: the aerial distribution ‘tool’ may soon be unavailable.
Detailed petition results will be available on the KAKA website at www.kaka1080.co.nz from early May 2009.