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.