Bovine TB information for pig hunters

What the TBfree New Zealand programme means for pig hunters

2013-05-09---AHB-Wild-Pigs-and-TB-2Wild pigs are not controlled as part of the bovine TB programme, but are valuable in determining if the disease is present in other wild animals in an area, such as possums and ferrets. As you are aware, wild pigs scavenge on rotting carcasses and, if the carcass is infected with TB, it is highly likely the wild pig will contract the disease.

  • In many areas, pig hunters and hunting clubs work closely with the TBfree New Zealand programme and supply pig heads as part of a TB survey programme.
  • Wild pigs can play a part in the cycle of TB among wild animal populations when infected pig heads, or discarded offal, is dumped and then scavenged by possums and ferrets. This may in turn infect the scavenging animal with TB, which can
  • then pass the disease to farmed cattle and deer.
  • It is of particular concern to the TBfree New Zealand programme if the infected pig head or offal is transported out of the area where it was captured. The best thing to do is leave the head and offal where you captured the animal, or if you do transport the animal intact, please dispose of the head in a covered offal pit, or bury it deep enough so that other animals cannot gain access to the remains.
  • Do not release pigs into the wild – it is illegal and they have the potential to set up new areas of infection in areas that are otherwise “clear” of the disease.

 

How to identify bovine TB in pigs

  • Bovine TB lesions can usually be found at the base of a pig’s jaw bone, or within its intestine if it has been eating TB-infected wild animals
  • These TB lesions in pigs can vary from a cream/green abscess to white, gritty lesions
  • The size of a lesion can vary from a few millimetres across to up to 60mm in diameter

 

If you find a suspicious lesion in a pig

  • Take a sample of the suspicious TB lesion, place it in a plastic container, seal it in a plastic bag and keep it cool
  • Refrigerate or freeze the sample separately and away from any food
  • Record the location where the pig or suspect animal was found
  • Call us on 0800 482 4636 and ask to have the sample collected. It will then be forwarded to an animal health laboratory for testing
  • Please be aware that submitting a positive TB sample does not mean that possum control will automatically be undertaken in the area. The sample will simply add to the local disease information

 

Is there a risk from handling
infected pigs?

Although the risk is low, it is possible to get TB by handling infected animals or their carcasses. You should always practise good hygiene by:

  • Disinfecting all knives, steels and other gear after use
  • Being careful of cuts on your hands and arms that could be exposed to blood or raw meat
  • Always wash your hands after cutting up animals and don’t smoke while working
  • Always cook the meat thoroughly

Your checklist for disease-free hunting

  • Check the TB status of the area you are hunting in and find out if it is a TB risk area known to contain TB-infected wild animals (vectors)
  • See the map below of TB risk areas around New Zealand or visit www.tbfree.org.nz
  • In these TB risk areas, remove the head at the kill site and leave it there, but if you have to transport it, ensure you dispose of it so other animals cannot scavenge on it
  • Keep dogs away from all uncooked offal and remains and don’t feed it to them
  • Do not take wild pigs from these TB risk areas and release them into other areas that are free of the disease in wild animals.

 

For more information call:  0800 482 4636

 

 

Why does New Zealand need to use 1080?

Why does New Zealand need to use 1080?

New Zealand’s unique native species are in crisis. Despite small local gains, the overall situation is getting worse.

We have lost 43 species of birds in the last 800 years since human settlement. Rats and dogs arrived with Māori and the list of introduced predators has grown since European settlement to include other species of rats, stoats, weasels, ferrets, possums, hedgehogs, and cats.

Today, 80% of our birds, 88% of our lizards and 100% of our frogs are threatened with extinction. In the 1970s, brown kiwi occupied 26% of forest area, but by the early 2000s this was down to 12% and we are losing 2% of the kiwi population each year. North Island kokako were found in 9% of forests in the 1970s but now it is just 2%.

Where there is regular pest control, these species are all doing well. However, most forests are not receiving regular pest control and in these areas time is running out.

Why can’t other pest control methods be used?

Different predator control methods all have their place, but 1080 is the only cost effective control method for large and remote tracts of forest. Hunting, trapping and ground baiting operations are only effective in some situations. These methods are labour-intensive, expensive and effective only over relatively small areas where there is good access.

Even in these areas, well-managed trapping and ground baiting operations can be overwhelmed by natural events such as beech seed masting events which lead to huge increases in predator numbers. But well-managed aerial 1080 operations can reduce possum and rat numbers by more than 95% over large areas of rugged and inaccessible country.

Anger after 1080 drop kills red deer at Molesworth Station

Hundreds of carcasses reported after Molesworth drop to fight tuberculosis.

A 1080 poison operation targeting possum on New Zealand’s largest farm has angered hunters who fear it’s needlessly killed hundreds of red deer.

Deer hunters have self-funded an aerial survey in the last few weeks to count just how many of the local red deer population have been killed after a 1080 drop in late-October by TBFree NZ to control possums on the historic 180,000-hectare Molesworth Station.

While the Marlborough branch of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) says the data is still being collated, with a final report still a month away, online hunting forums suggest as many as 345 red deer have been spotted lying dead on the land.

“There were certainly dead deer seen,” said Wayne Smith, NZDA Marlborough branch committee member, “and, from observations, not as many live deer running around the hills as we would’ve expected.”

The Department of Conservation (DoC), which owns the station and leases it to Landcorp Farming Ltd, says it gives Ospri permission to run pest control operations on public conservation land.

Ospri’s TBfree programme is designed to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB) from Molesworth which has a long history with TB infection in its cattle herd and wildlife, dating back to the early 1960s.

Eight helicopters using GPS dropped toxic bait at 2kg/ha on a 61,200ha area after “significant public and community engagement”, OSPRI says.

“The justification for possum control was compelling and also carried significant conservation benefits,” a spokesman said.

“Ospri recognises that there is always a risk of deer by-kill as a result of 1080 application for pest control and is committed to working with hunting groups to minimise the impacts on these populations through targeted use of deer repellent.

“Although possums are the main source of wildlife infection, it is difficult and costly to directly detect TB in the possum population itself, because the disease often only occurs in small population clusters.”

The imbalanced presentation of the science

The imbalanced presentation of the science

Independent research has gathered overwhelming evidence of harm to some native species from aerial 1080 operations, and there is considerable evidence of ecological disruption, as one would expect given the indiscriminate nature of the aerial 1080 programme.

19 different native bird species have had corpses test positive for 1080 after aerial 1080 operations.

There is no credible scientific evidence that mass poisoning the forest ecosystems with aerial 1080 is of net benefit to native species.

All the science studies on bird mortality in 1080 drop zones refer to the small sample size, the lack of a control, and the need for long term population monitoring. These concerns are completely absent in DoC summaries.

Clear alternative methods of pest control are available, but are not adequately promoted or explored whilst there remains a total reliance by DOC/AHB on aerial 1080 operations.

NZ Hunting Products against 1080 Poison

What is 1080 and how does it work?

1080 is a metabolic poison that is extremely toxic to all air-breathing organisms. It blocks the body’s muscle and organs ability to absorb energy from its food, and results in a slow and inhumane death, typically 8 -24 hours for birds, 2-4 days for large mammals. There is no known antidote for this deadly poison.

Poisoning from 1080 occurs through eating the dosed baits (cereal pellets or poison-laced carrots) or from the flesh of poisoned animals. Carcasses remain poisonous until they are completely decomposed, which makes 1080 particularly lethal to dogs.

The scale of the use of 1080 and its implications

During aerial poisoning operations, massive quantities (approximately 4000-100,000 kg of bait per drop) of poison-laced, palatable foodstuffs are introduced by helicopter or plane into New Zealand’s forest ecosystems and potentially into streams. The portion of poison per drop ranges from 10-400 km2.

New Zealand is now the world’s largest consumer of 1080. In most other countries 1080 is banned outright or severely restricted because of its lethality and its indiscriminate killing power.

There is considerable opinion that important damage could be done to NZ tourism and its brand name “100% Pure” labelling if DoC’s continual poisoning campaign with aerial 1080 were widely known outside New Zealand.

An estimated 20,000 deer are poisoned by 1080 each year.

If 1080 traces were ever found in exported food products such as milk and beef it could have important impact on New Zealand’s ability to export these products.

DoC assures the public that sensitive areas such as campsites, huts, walking tracks and waterways are avoided during aerial drops.

 

N.Z Hunting Products Determining the age of wild pigs

Determining the age of wild pigs

The age of pigs can be estimated by the eruption sequence of the molar teeth up to 42 months, with a
good degree of accuracy. This is fortunate because, in most situations, between 60-80 per cent of the wild
pig harvest will be less than 48 months of age.

For older pigs age can be determined by wear estimations,
while these are less accurate, they can still provide good survey information.
The tooth eruption sequence in New Zealand’s wild pigs is described in a Land care Research paper
published in 1992, A Comparison of Tooth Eruption and Wear and Dental Cementum Techniques in Age
Determination of New Zealand Feral Pigs.

Some 2000 pig jaws were examined in this comprehensive study.
Elements of this paper and the authors’ field experience are presented here in a photographic chart form
to assist field workers to age pig jaws for wildlife survey work.

A Dog Killer – Go-Slow

A strange illness that kills dogs and may affect humans is being investigated by a Far North vet.

“Go Slow” is an unknown muscle disease that turns top hunting dogs into shaking pups, sometimes killing them. It’s not recognised in other countries and is mostly found in Northland, veterinarian Jenni Petersen says.

Petersen has been investigating go slow for the last year with veterinarian Hayley Hunt who’s doing her PhD in pathology. Symptoms include shaking legs, restlessness, vomiting, breathing difficulties, bloody diarrhea and dogs getting exhausted quickly.

They believe the dogs are contracting the illness from eating wild boar that containing a toxin.

Petersen, who runs Nor Vets in Okaihau, says the disease typically takes between 8 to 10 hours to affect a dog after it eats the infected boar meat.

The disease attacks the part of the cell that converts oxygen into energy and kills muscles, she says.

It is thought go slow is caused by eating infected pig meat.

“It just depends how much of it they eat.

“It’s really quite painful for them.

“It’s like the cell dies away and then it’s gone. This toxin keeps working for 18 months.”

Hunt says the pig meat is still infected even after it’s been frozen and boiled.

Peterson says vitamin B seems to help but there is no cure yet.

“All you can do is put them in a cage and rest them. And get them off the [boar] meat.”

Hunt is looking at whether Go Slow could stem from plants.

“The big goal is to find out what’s causing it so we can treat it.

“There are some plants that are found in that upper part of New Zealand that could be toxic that the pigs are eating and the dogs are being exposed to.”

Peterson has put $12,000 of her own money into research. She says the next step is sending off healthy and infected dog livers to be tested at Auckland University to determine which pathway within the cell is being affected.

High incidences of Go Slow appear in Te Karae, Broadwood, Awarua, Pipiwai, Twin Bridges, Herekino, Paponga, Motatau and Dome Valley.

 

Shepherd Mike Moody says he’s lost around 15 of his dogs to the disease.

“My dogs started keeling over, going skinny overnight and then just wasting away.”

He says he got it himself six years ago when he lost 12kgs in 10 days and found himself exhausted. A doctor medicated him for leptospirosis and his symptoms disappeared. Since then he’s vaccinated all his dogs against leptospirosis and hasn’t had a problem. Moody never feeds his dogs pig and thinks the disease came from infected rats.

“The pigs have only got it because they’re scavengers. It could be in the sheep and cattle meat too.”

I just had to get the dogs and myself out for a hunt….

I was going to head for a block of native away out the back of the forestry for a look. My reason for heading for this block was that one of my work mates from Fonterra had said to me a couple of days earlier that he was going to be heading out with his mates from the local 4wd club to see if they could get over one of the old 4wd tracks. They were going to take shovels with them to try and fix the track up enough to get through. It has been a couple of years since I had been over the far side of this track as the water had washed ruts in the track up to eight feet deep.

As I approached the bottom of the hill and the start of the native the two dogs that I had Lightning and Fog became keen on a pig scent and tracked away. I followed up the 4wd track on the four wheeler as the dogs went from the bottom of the gully to almost the top, one km away. I stopped the bike on a tricky part of the track and listened out for the dogs as they were working the face opposite me. Lightning grabbed a small pig so I was quick to give him a buzz on the electric collar so he let the pig go fast and it got to survive. Over the next couple of minutes both dogs returned to me so I started moving some rocks around so that I could get the bike across this washed out bit on the track.

Once I got over this bit it was only a short ride to the top of the hill where I left the bike and walked the last bit so that no animals would hear the bike on the other side of the hill. One thing that I forgot to grab was the 357 that I had on the bike. As I was watching the two dogs work their way down the face I turned and looked out beside me and there was a good sized boar about eighty meters away sneaking out from where the dogs were earlier. As I whistled the two dogs back to me the boar took off making the most of any advantage that he was going to have. By the time I got the dogs onto his scent he would have had a ninety second head start. At 1.12 km away the dogs had stopped the boar so I decided that I would see how well the 4wd club had cleared this track down below me. I only got two hundred meters down before I chickened out and left the bike where it was in the middle of the track as I did not think anybody else would be using this track today. As it turned out I would have been better off walking from the top of the hill and straight around the side to where the dogs were instead now I had to go down through the gully up the other side and follow the same game trail that the dogs had taken. By the time that I caught up with the dogs and boar they had moved around into the next gully. This gully looked more suited to thar than pigs and the thought did cross my mind to just whistle the dogs into heel and leave the boar as I was not about to try and carry him out from where he was. In the end I thought that I had might as well go down and get some photos of the dogs bailing him before I called them off. As I closed in on them I came in behind Lightning who was barking and facing down hill with Fog down below hiding in the scrub but barking up hill so I knew that the Boar had to be just below Lightning. I did film from behind Lightning but could not see the boar in the footage so I got right up beside Lightning and looked over top of the scrub and could make out the outline of the boar, when next thing I knew he charged Lightning and was standing practically on my feet. All he had to do was throw his head my way and I could have been ripped. Without hesitation I pulled the hammer back on the 357 and pulled the trigger with the gun right up against the pig’s neck in behind the ear. He dropped like a stone not even kicking as the shot would have broken his neck. I had already made up my mind that I was not going to carry this 140 – 150 pound boar out as I was on my own.

The Puma White Hunter

Returning to that Puma White Hunter, I am mystified how anyone could have designed such a knife.

Big and heavy, lovely steel, but a bloody great thick bit on the end, I think for hitting with a rock to cut bone etc, and practically no point on it at all. I got it in a trade it for a fly fishing reel in a moment of stupidity, and regretted it until finally I took it into the county workshop. The big grinder, the little grinder, and a shit-load of sparks later, it more closely resembled a pig-sticker. Actually, it became a favourite weapon, until another bad day happened along.

Toby and I were having a little walk, up the Waipara River bed, thinking maybe we’d find a pig lurking in some swampy river flats. Sure enough, the plan worked well, and it was not long before Toby’s nose was in action, as he stood tall and drank in the wind from upriver. Sinking down without a glance at me, he jumped up into the jungle of gorse and broom under the willow trees, and disappeared. I stood alert on the edge of the riverbank, half expecting a pig or two to leap out into the open trying to escape the dog. Quiet reigned for a few minutes, just the cicadas rasping away, and the water rolling over the rocks. After about 10 minutes, a squeal upstream about 100 yards, and we are in business. I sprinted up the riverbed, spray flying, and ready for action. Nothing broke cover, and as I drew level I could tell it was not big, maybe 60-70 lbs, and only a few yards in from the bank.

Leaning the 30-30 against a rock, I drew the Puma and began crawling on hands and knees through the thorns and vines, knife firmly clutched in my left hand, eyes wide open and ready for action! Its hot, and the sweat is pouring down before long, as the pig keeps slipping free and gaining a few more yards before the dog can anchor it again. Eventually, I’ve got it in sight at about 5 yards and, waiting until its looking away from me, I lunge for a grip on a back leg. Once I’m locked on, its gets easier, and I can wrestle it, catching an opposite side front leg, and flicking it onto its back.

Doing this with a knife in one hand is not so easy, but between me and the dog, we’ve kinda got the situation in hand. Except for the Puma, which proves to be so blunt, I could ride bare-assed to bloody London on it. Push as I may, I can’t push it thought the skin on the pig’s neck. The dog lets go, to get his breathe back, grinning as he does so. I quickly raise the knife, stabbing hard to drive it home. Toby, on instinct, senses the pig is making a break, and pounces on its throat just as the knife arcs down. He’s so damned quick I can’t pull the hit, and he takes the knife in the head, hard. I’m appalled, and Toby whines in agony, the knife buried in his eye socket, jammed into the bone. Bloody hell, what a shocking thing to happen. I wrench the knife free as he staggers, bleeding and whining, and pull him close to comfort him. I’ve taken his eye out, the poor bastard, and the tears stream down my face. I’m gutted, I think maybe this is one of the worst days hunting I’ve ever had in my life. We are even, true, but I certainly had never wanted retribution for the injury he’d inflicted on me the year before. Out comes a field dressing to cover the oozing eye socket, some Elastoplasts to hold it in place. To hell with the pig, I’ve let it go, and we jog off down the riverbed to the truck, dog at heel, head cocked to one side, and emitting the occasional whimper. Back home, and round to the vet, who is shocked at the injury.

After an operation to tidy up the damage, Toby is soon back home to recuperate. Sad to say, he was no good after that, the knife having penetrated his nasal cavity, impairing his scenting abilities. He tried hard, running with his head to one side, clumsy at first but soon mastering the impediment. Few more pigs were added to his tally. Steadily, his judgment diminished, and before long he’d pull over a sheep by mistake, a sin of enormous magnitude, and quite unpardonable. He became untrustworthy, mean-spirited, and disobedient, and thus brought about his own end, an action that was at the time easy, standing as he was over the fresh-killed carcass of a farmer’s ewe and lamb.

Reg Carr – Pig Hunter…

pigsnort

Reg Carr – pig hunter, raconteur and observer of life both human and porcine. This is Reg’s fifth book, if you have read one before you know what to expect, if you haven’t, prepare to enjoy, as Reg takes you the reader along on some of his many hunting trips.

There’s more to Reg’s pig hunting than pigs, it’s the dogs, the people, places and the events that come together, not always the way they should, that create the backdrop for this book. Says Reg:”I’m remembering back to when it all happened and am trying to recapture the buzz it brings and the excitement we had at the time.”

I get almost as much fun out of retelling the chase as I did when it happened, but feel this book will be my “swan-song,” or “pig snort,” if you like.Likely, it will be my last major effort so I sincerely hope that you will enjoy what’s written. I know that when Sam and Kalvin read what happened they’ll realize I have made a mistake or two – not intentional believe me, but all put together the way my memory serves me and for the fun of it.”