Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright released a report investigating the use of 1080 – Evaluating the use of 1080: Predators, poisons and silent forests.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why isn’t 1080 used in other countries?
A: New Zealand is unique because we have no native land mammals that can die from 1080 poisoning. However, New Zealand is not alone in its aerial use of 1080. In Western Australia it is used to control foxes, wild dogs, and wild cats over 3.5 million hectares.
Q: Hawaii has the same problem as NZ so why don’t they use 1080?
A: First, the biggest threat to native birds in Hawaii is avian malaria, not pests – and certainly not the combination of rats, stoats and possums that we face here. Secondly, Hawaii is covered by a federal 1080 ban in the United States which is in place to protect mammals they have on the mainland, such as coyote.
Q: Isn’t ground control almost as affordable as aerial 1080?
A: No it isn’t. Ground control is very important, but its can’t be used over the vast tracts of native forest in rugged country where there is no control of possums, rats and stoats. In particular, in years when there is abundant seeding (masting) in forests you need to be able to knock down rats and stoats very quickly and effectively. This can’t be done with ground control.
Aerial 1080 kills all three of the big pests (stoats, rats, and possums) at the same time, making it much cheaper than ground control where up to three different control methods are needed.
Q: Does aerial 1080 kill certain native bird species when dropped?
A: Concerns are often raised about bykill. One example often used is a 1080 operation in the 1990s in which 12 of the 28 monitored robins were killed. What is often not pointed out is that the population of robins increased by 29% - with eight times more chicks surviving to adulthood. This operation used carrot bait which had a higher risk of bykill because little bits of carrot could be eaten by birds. DOC now uses cereal baits, not carrot baits - and the baits are coloured green or blue so the birds aren’t interested.
Q: Have there been serious and credible scientific studies on aerial 1080 use?
A: There is a clear and credible scientific body of evidence that aerial 1080 is very effective at killing possums, rats and stoats and increasing populations of native species. There have also been studies on the risks associated with 1080 use, showing these are very small.