8 Key Concerns About the Lehua Aerial Poison Drop
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1. Lehua is a State Wildlife Sanctuary. DLNR’s proposed aerial drop violates its own stated mission to “protect… Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawaii nei, and its visitors…”
2. DLNR has no data or research on the effects of this pesticide on whales and dolphins (called “cetaceans”). Yet, they stated that there would be “no significant impact” to species or the ecosystem in this anticoagulant chemical drop.
3. DLNR is skirting the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Lehua island harbors federally listed, endangered monk seals, green sea turtles and three species of birds, all protected under the ESA and living in its nearshore waters and coastal areas. Rare coral systems, manta rays, dolphins, reef fish and seabirds are found in abundance there. All these species would be exposed to the poison, including through poisoned prey, moving toxicity through the food web.
4. Fishermen, tour boats, and subsistence based Ni’ihauans depend on the pristine nature of Lehua’s waters for their lives. DLNR and other agencies have not made any provisions or funds available for the possibility of great harm that this aerial drop may cause to the environment and to people.
5. DLNR did this same aerial operation on Lehua in 2009 with the same active ingredient. Not only did it fail to kill all the rodents on the island, two whales and a large scale fish die-off followed within days of that operation. DLNR claims that those deaths are “inconclusive.” The 2017 poison drop on Lehua was a six-fold increase from the 2009 drop (3,900 lbs. vs. 11.5 tons of diphacinone).
6. There have been only 3 aerial largescale drops of anticoagulant in to Hawaii waters and near shore areas, all followed by “inconclusive” deaths of whales (Lehua and Mokapu island). In a UH assessment report, the 2009 aerial drop has been described as “experimental.” The 2017 Lehua poison drop would also be the first large-scale drop with a new formulation of the pesticide, which just received its EPA label change approval on June 22, 2017.
7. There is no Lehua-specific research that even shows a level of rodent pressure or Lehua-specific baseline rodent population numbers warranting an aerial drop of 11.5 tons of poison.
8. A FOIA-requested document shows that this operation was instigated by a 2011 proposition of interest from a mainland consultant with ties to Bell Labs as the pesticide manufacturer, offering funding for the poison drop in Hawaii.