Hunters as eco-terrorists


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Keith
January 14, 2003, 03:49 PM
"Ecoterrorists" introduce pests into wildlife reserves
By The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Ecological "terrorists" may be threatening some of the nation's wildlife sanctuaries by introducing potentially devastating predators, the government warned Monday.

Conservation Minister Chris Carter said anonymous letters sent to animal conservation authorities claimed 11 possums have already been released at the Kapiti Island bird sanctuary northwest of the capital, Wellington. The claims could not be immediately verified.

"We are all hoping these threats are hoaxes, unfortunately the consequences of not taking them seriously could be horrific," Carter said in a statement.

Hunters, angry about plans to eradicate wapiti deer from the Fiordland forests of New Zealand’s South Island, are being blamed for the threats.

Carter said Kapiti and other protected islands would be logical targets "if you wanted to carry out a terrorist activity like that." Kapiti was the first offshore island cleared of all bird predators — including possums, an unwanted squirrel-like animal native to neighboring Australia. The island is regarded by environmentalists as a model birdlife and forest regeneration program.

Other letters threatened to release bird-killing stoats, a type of weasel, on Codfish Island and on nearby Stewart Island off the southern coast of South Island. Codfish Island is one of only two breeding grounds for kakapo, a 20-kilogram (44 pound) green-plumed flightless parrot native to New Zealand.

Hunter Geoff McKenzie, who opposes the eradication plan, said he could understand the frustration of some deer hunters but did not support the letter campaign. "The only avenue (we) can take is political action. People who make these threats are a small lunatic fringe and most New Zealanders, like myself, are outraged," he said.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent safeguarding the birds and environments of the islands where they breed. Possums have devastated bird colonies throughout New Zealand, eating the same food as birds, and have also been known to eat eggs and chicks. Estimates of the number of possums in New Zealand range from 20 million to 70 million.

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Art Eatman
January 14, 2003, 08:29 PM
By the title of the thread, I thought this had something to do with hunters as a particular group.

Are "wapiti deer" the same as U.S. elk? (aka "wapiti") If so, they're an introduced species, and it would not necessarily be a Bad Thing to remove them. However, if hunting has controlled the numbers, I fail to see how they bother or endanger bird species.

The sad thing about these brouhahas is that most hunters would happily help preserve habitat for non-game species, were hunters themselves not endangered by their "partners in preservation".

Were the Sierra Club to get off their anti-hunting kick, they would almost immediately gain the lobbying assistance of the NRA. After all, from an environmental protection standpoint, many of the views and opinions are the same.

Art

yorec
January 14, 2003, 10:52 PM
Yeah the Wapiti are elk, imported long ago because New Zealand had no real huntable wildlife of its own. Likewise the red deer and wild pig were imported.

Now if we could have left well enough alone with New Zealand from the start they did have a pretty good trophy species until mankind ate them all. Consider what every turkey hunter in the US would give to go down there and call in a giant Moa in the tropical climate of North Island.

Mmmm, roast Moa with white beans and sauce... :p

JoshM
January 14, 2003, 11:46 PM
Currently there is an intense debate concerning the actions of the Department of Conservation [DOC]and its ultra green counterpart, the Forest and Bird Society.

Basically the DOC and Forest and Bird are trying to push an extremist policy of eradicating all introduced species.
This includes massive use of air dropped poison [a poison which is banned in most nations], the culling of Tahr [an endangered species], the culling of the White Tail on Stewart Island [small/ heavily hunted stock], and the culling of Wapiti [a well controlled stock].

While these are introduced species they are now considered by most to be part of the landscape. Sheep, Goats, Pigs, and Cattle have had a far greater effect then Deer ever did.

This has quickly become a public relations nightmare for DOC and their idealogical counterparts as the hunting fraternity is a major contributor to conservation issues [esp wetland restoration] and represents alot of votes.

These "anonymous letters" from the "Biodiversity action committee" damage the reputation of hunters in the eyes of the wider public just at a time when DOC/Forest and Bird are on the ropes for their "kill 'em all" policy. Considering that Forest and Bird are considered to be the masters of spin, I would not be suprised if there is more to this then meets the eye.

Yorec
You would be amazed at the number of Japanese Tourists who can be quickly convinced that the Moa is both alive and carnivorous!!! :D

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