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.