Forest and Bird Afflicted with “Pest Panic Phobia”

Press Release – Sporting Conservation Outdoor Trust

Press Release

Forest and Bird Afflicted with “Pest Panic Phobia” over Wallabies

A conservation and hunting lobby has termed a recent Forest and Bird call for more funding to stop a perceived national plague of wallabies as an attack of “pestpanic phobia”. Laurie Collins of Sporting Conservation Outdoor Trust (SCOT) said a press release by Forest and Bird was a “muddled mess of sensationalism, emotionalism.”

Forest and Bird recently said the government urgently needed to fund wallaby control, before wallabies reaches plague proportions. Wallabies could spread over a third of New Zealand within the next 50 years, unless control is increased dramatically, said Forest and Bird central North Island regional manager Rebecca Stirnemann.

Laurie Collins was for many years involved in wild animal work with the NZ Forest Service, rabbit boards and regional bodies.

“Forest and Bird’s culture is totally wrong, wasteful and impractical. Too often Forest and Bird see the solution as drenching the countryside with poison and thereby ignoring prudent, practical management.”

Laurie Collins said wallabies were liberated in the 1870s – almost 200 years ago. Their spread from the South island liberation point at Waimate had been very gradual and slow, Rotorua’s wallabies were liberated in the early 20th century over a century ago.

However Laurie Collins said underlying Forest and Bird’s irrational strident calls was that any wild animal should be treated as a resource. If numbers are considered too high, there should be a harvest and where possible, utilisation of the carcasses.

He said kangaroo meat was considered a dining delicacy so wallaby should be similar. It was wasteful and immoral in a world crying out for food in the face of steadily climbing human numbers, to leave carcasses to rot. Another use would be pet food manufacture.

Pet food manufacture using possums was done successfully some years ago by a Bay of Plenty factory but export markets collapsed when Japanese authorities learned of New Zealand’s 1080 poison spreading.

“Forest and Bird need to overhaul their vocabulary,” said Laurie Collins.

Instead the words ‘pest’ and ‘control’ should be replaced by ‘resource’ and ‘management’ respectively. Replace ‘kill’ with ‘harvest’ he said.

“It is simply a matter of constructive attitude instead of a mindless, unscientific dogma of hate and cruelty,” said Laurie Collins.

He said Forest and Bird still continued to ignore the fact that New Zealand vegetation evolved under widespread intensive browsing by moas and other vegetarian birds while scientists had identified insects as natural indigenous browsers of tussock and forest foliage.

Laurie Collins a West coast resident with wild animal experience in Marlborough and Canterbury, said he doubted the accuracy of Forest and Bird’s claim that “wallabies have already been sighted in fresh territories in Auckland, Northland, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Wellington, Marlborough, Southland and the West Coast.”
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