What will the Royal New Zealand Forest & Bird "Destruction" Society Inc do when we run out of possum? It seems a funny question to ask, but it is a very important one. There is no doubt that possum numbers are seriously in decline as just a simple road kill count will show. This is due in part to pressure on them for their valuable fur; also, in the conservation lands, slow breeding possum take years to recover from the frequent poisonings by DoC and others.
Should this not be something that Forest & Bird would welcome? After all are they not campaigning to save our forests and birds from a plague of possums? They are a wealthy and powerful incorporated society whose main income stream from the public is generated by claiming to save the forests and birds. The real problem is, can an income stream be maintained if there is no threat to our forests and birds? It seems the Royal Forest and Bird "Destruction" Society thinks not and they are addressing that by inflating the threat, inflating possum numbers, and possum damage to plants and wildlife.
This was so brilliantly demonstrated recently by their advocate, Nicola Vallence, on a TV7 programme of 30/8/11. New Zealand has a special problem, claimed Nicola. "Here possum are not like they are in Australia. They have more babies in New Zealand, and that is why we have a special problem!" The claim is extraordinary as possum are a marsupial, able to carry only one joey in the pouch, they just cannot carry more babies. Even Forest & Bird web sites (http://www.kcc.org.nz/possums) claim there are over 30million possum – seven for every man woman and child. Do you see them out there?
Vegetarian possum are also alleged to kill and eat birds and destroy forests. It is a classic case of invoking a bogeyman, a manufactured threat that needs your donations, your corporate sponsorships and your bequests to save us!
The real evil of this venal and cynical campaign is how Forest & Bird advocate dealing with its possum paper dragon; by the use of aerial 1080. We know poisoning kills off the slow breeding birds like the kea to the point of local extinctions, we know that it kills off the forest floor insects essential to the health of the forest, we know that although it initially knocks rat populations, they "bounce back" to become rat plagues. Forest and Bird, by its advocacy, is the real threat to our unique forests and wildlife.
We can do something about it. Do not donate to Forest and Bird. Do not sponsor them, what is more, boycott their sponsors (and let them know why). Discourage bequests to Forest and Bird. It is only by bringing outfits like this to heel that we can break the 1080 cycle that is killing the land.