Some facts about 1080 operations
1080 is the only toxin currently registered for use on mainland New Zealand as suitable for aerial targeting of possums.
Aerial application of 1080 using helicopters is a carefully planned process, targeting and avoiding specific areas and boundries using GPS technology.16 Aerial targeting is an essential part of the strategy for reaching areas that are inaccessible or dangerous by land, and protecting TB-free areas throughout the country by creating an effective buffer zone from TB-infected areas.
Ground-based operations are used in about two thirds of the areas where AHB, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and regional councils have identified that possum control is neccessary. Very strict notification procedures are followed prior to all 1080 operations, including the approval of the local public Medical Officer of Health.17
Dogs are very vulnerable to 1080, up to ten times more so than other animals. Dog owners are warned to keep their dogs well away from 1080-treated areas.
In spite of careful procedures, including extensive signposting, occasional dog deaths do occur. Where there is any possible risk, muzzles should be used to protect dogs from eating baits or poisoned carcasses. If a dog inadvertently ingests 1080, it should be taken to a vet immediately. Acetamide has proven an effective emetic and should be administered as soon as possible.18 Farmed mammals and other introduced domestic mammals are also vulnerable to 1080 if they gain access to the baits.
While DOC, AHB and regional councils are all bound by very strict operational regulations and procedures, from time to time accidental poisoning of non-target animals does occur. Avoiding such incidents is a high priority goal and to this end protocols and operating practices are subject to rigorous review and continuous improvement.
The organisations that use 1080 have always been very concerned to ensure that it effectively targets the introduced pests and has minimal impact on native species which they are trying to protect. For example, 30 years ago a standard operation used around 30kg of un-dyed carrot bait per hectare. Today a standard operation would use between 1.5kg and 3kg of dyed ceral bait. Landcare is carrying out research for DOC and AHB to reduce the sowing rate down to just 0.25kg per hectare.19
Alternatives to 1080
The supporters of this website are also supportive of ongoing research into finding alternative methods of controlling possums and other mammalian pests. If we had a choice we would not use some of the toxins that are used to control target pests. Use of any type of toxin involves ethical issues and trade-offs, for example with regard to its humaneness relative to its effectiveness and also the suffering target pests inflict on their prey. Unfortunately, effective solutions involve tough choices, particularly when we are dealing with a major, human-induced threat to our biodiversity and our economy. We have to choose between feeding native and often rare species to introduced pests, or killing the pests so that the native species can survive. We have the same issues with regard to protecting our stock from Bovine TB. We have international as well as national responsibilities to ensure survival of our native species and to protect our farms from disease, and no one can fulfil those responsibilities on our behalf.
Scientists, farmers and conservationists are widely united in the view that for now, 1080 is the best solution we have, and until such time as an effective alternative is found, it must remain a key component of New Zealand’s overall pest control strategy.