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SPCA criticised over article supporting 1080 ban

The SPCA has come under fire for saying it wants a ban on the use of 1080 poison.

In an article published on its website, the animal rights group said "humane methods" should be used to kill pests.

"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 article said.

The SPCA said it did not regard one species as being more important than another.

"We do recognise that there is a concern regarding the impact of so-called 'pest' animals. Sometimes it is necessary to capture certain animals or manage populations of species for various reasons, including biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability," it said.

SPCA chief scientific officer Anya Dale has clarified the organisation's position.

"The SPCA's position is that all poison's cause prolonged and intense suffering to animals, both native and non-native, and as such it is very difficult to justify so it's important to note that the SPCA is not opposed to the management of animal species, provided that it's justified and humane and we absolutely support the innovation into alternatives to the use of poisons to manage species in New Zealand."

When questioned over whether this meant the organisation wanted 1080 to be banned, Dr Dale reiterated the above statement.

She said that there needed to be more investment in alternatives.

"SPCA supports innovation into alternatives to the use of poisons - it's a difficult area, there needs to be a lot more money and research invested in this space.

"We look at reproductive and genetic technologies as where it probably needs to head.

"We have kill traps, we have non-kill traps - there's lots of different methods that we already use, now clearly it is much cheaper to aerially drop poison across thousands of hectares, of course that is, but we can do it in other ways, it's just a different way of allocating resourcing."

But Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said that trapping was not a viable alternative.

"Anyone who is involved in trapping understands that trapping alone simply cannot cover the extent of the country that we need to be able to cover to control these pests," Mr Hague said.

"What it shows is they have a level of naivety around what's required to protect our native animals and birds."

OSPRI, the partnership organisation between primary industries and the government that is tasked with eradicating TB, agreed that alternatives to 1080 did not exist.

OSPRI's research and development manager Richard Curtis said it budgets $2 million a year for research, of which half a million is for projects looking at alternatives or reductions to 1080.

He said there were two main pest-control research projects that the organisation had been working on but both of them would still poison the animal.

Mr Curtis said that biological alternatives were researched in the '90s but found to have a low-likelihood of effectiveness.

"Biological alternatives are actually very complex and frequently don't work... so at the moment we're not investing in that space."
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