No substitute for 1080 in some areas

Environment commissioner Jan Wright advocated for wider use of 1080 two years ago and is disappointed there’s been so little action since then.

. . . Dr Wright says time is running out for native species on the mainland.

“There are three predators that are inflicting enormous damage on our native birds and plants – possums, rats, and stoats. The only way we can control them over large areas is to use 1080. We are lucky to have it.

“When I released my report two years ago I called for greater use of 1080 because I was extremely concerned about the future of kiwi and other native birds.

“Currently the Department of Conservation is spending more on research into 1080 and its alternatives than it is on actually using it.

“While I’m happy this research is being done, I would like to see more money being spent on frontline pest control.

“While I am heartened by the public support for a pest-free New Zealand there is no way that it could currently be achieved without 1080. I will continue to recommend its use is increased. “

Dr Wright’s report is here, her update is here.

Forest and Bird agree with her.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the PCE’s latest report reinforces Forest & Bird’s stance that 1080 remains the most cost effective way of controlling the three “key pests of possums, rats and stoats” over large areas.

“Pests are decimating our native forests and killing an estimated 25 million birds a year, pushing some of them towards extinction. We need to get on top of the pest situation if we want to reverse the decline of our native wildlife.

“We fully agree with the Commissioner in that aerial 1080 drops over large areas are the best way to do that,” he says.

“Other methods of pest control, like trapping and ground-based poison operations, are expensive, time-consuming, cover small areas, and often fail to get into the heart of the back country where it’s most needed. Aerial 1080 drops, at this stage, offer the most cost-effective way to tackle New Zealand’s pest problem,” Kevin Hackwell says.

Forest & Bird is disappointed that the Department of Conservation has not acted on the PCE’s key recommendation from the initial 2011 report to increase the use of aerial 1080 operations.

“DOC should move resources from the less effective ground-based control to the more effective use of aerial 1080. There’s no need for any more delay, we should be acting on the PCE’s recommendations now,” Kevin Hackwell says.

It is impossible to safeguard native birds when 1080 is dropped and it can kill them. But populations recover very quickly when their predators are killed.

Trapping and hunting animal pests works well in some places.

But in many areas 1080 is the best way to kill the pests which destroy native flora and pray on the fauna.

Some of these pests also carry TB which can spread to farm animals and people.

5 Responses to No substitute for 1080 in some areas

  1. What exactly is 1080?


  2. homepaddock says:

    A pesticide.


  3. Gravedodger says:

    1080 is sodium fluoracetate, a colorless, odourless lethal poison .It is cheap to make and easy to deliver to a target species with baits and systems that are simple and safe for operators.

    By using different systems for delivery ie air spread baits, or on spits of soil using vectors such as grain pellets vegetables, (diced carrots0, jams,and pastes, species can be very specifically targeted,.

    It breaks down to safe compounds very quickly on contact with water and or soil.

    There is a small risk of lethal doses reaching non target species with one serious instance being dogs that are susceptable to a lethal dose around 1/10 of that needed to kill a rabbit or a possum.

    It has achieved an adverse profile among the ignorant and the conflicted who argue endlessly against the science of its efficacy and safety on spurious grounds, including complaints of widespread collateral killing. For instance large game hunters fearing destruction of deer in possum or rabbit attacks.

    Jan Wright is an educated and knowwlegible advocate for its controlled use as she can see the enormous benefits it brings with large area attacks and an efficacy beyond belief.

    I have personal knowledge of a program on hill grazing property where an explosion of bird life (tui, bellbird, quail, starlings and sparrows to name a few) and native vegetation growth following a blanket attack that left possum numbers at close to zero for years after a concerted district attack. Prior to that effort we would spend on average two nights a week, year round night shooting possums as we were in an endemic TB zone. We managed to remain :clear” while every one of our 9 neighbours had TB reactors over the 20 years we famed there. After the single 1080 attack when we covered the farm in two halves in consecutive weeks it was not worth going out with the spotlight as there were just no possums to be found.


  4. fredinthegrass says:

    Thank you Gd for a rational, knowledgeable post. It is a sad fact that opponents are not so rational and often have a ‘vested’ interest. My experience – both first and second hand- is the evidence is so overwhelming it is a simple no-brainer. The explosion of bird life following a 1080 “drop” is a joy to both see and hear.


  5. Mr E says:

    I do think that the 1080 debate is over exaggerated. As a somewhat aged hunter (maybe an ex hunter) I have visited forest just out of 1080 withholding and found dead deer carcasses. At the same time I have seen and shot very healthy animals.
    Some dead quarry is collateral damage in the creation of a healthy forest. One I am personally willing to accept. Whilst hunting I enjoy the birdlife, as much as the forest as much as the hunt. 1080 use seems to create a good balance of these things, at least in my experience.

    Mr E


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