"I'd grown tired of seeing the volume and the extremity and the sheer amounts of BS in circulation about 1080," he says.
The result is a 318-page book called Protecting Paradise: 1080 and the Fight to Save New Zealand's Wildlife that dissects anti-1080 sentiment and answers sentence by sentence virtually every anti claim ever made about the pesticide.
These are the people that Nelson-based Hansford battles. He is not a scientist, but he champions the scientists.
Hansford is the guy who goes down the rabbit holes to ferret out every anti-1080 claim and conspiracy theory. He wanted to write a "considered, objective appraisal of the science of 1080, trying to tease apart the mythology and propaganda from the facts".
Someone had to.
It must have been exhausting work and Hansford admits to many late nights on Facebook, home ground for many anti-1080 activists.
He understands he'll never convince the vehement deniers, that 10 per cent of the population who reject 1080 utterly. He's after the waverers, the folks who've seen the work of 1080 opponents and don't know what to believe.
Finding something better has now been centralised and partially funded under the Predator Free 2050 campaign. If this works, then 1080 use will stop eventually. Here is a good point to recap the 1080 issue. The scientific consensus is that 1080 is a necessary evil until something better comes along. There is nothing better at the moment for poisoning possums, rats and stoats, which would otherwise kill native birds, insects, plants and trees. If we didn't use 1080, there's a good chance treasured native species would become extinct.
The 1080 opponents argue that "there is no credible scientific evidence that mass poisoning the forest ecosystems with aerial 1080 is of net benefit to native species".
They argue that sodium fluoroacetate, as 1080 is scientifically known, kills native species including kiwi and kea (and deer) at alarming rates. Although the Department of Conservation says 1080 biodegrades, opponents are certain it remains in the environment much longer.
Here's a neat example of some anti-1080 thinking: 1080 kills kiwi, therefore 1080 isn't working. Predators kill kiwi, therefore 1080 isn't working.
Round and round it goes. This isn't the place to rehash the debate. Hansford needed 318 pages.
But here's the thing: "A great deal of anti-1080 sentiment isn't about 1080," he says.
"I suspect opposition to 1080 is much more about opposition to the system and the government," Hansford says.
He blames neo-liberalism.
That's the political and economic philosophy that has driven New Zealand society since Muldoon was defeated. Low taxes, corporatised government services, privatised crown corporations, health boards that run surpluses and so forth.
It has "left vast swathes of New Zealand society abandoned, disaffected and disempowered and this gives rise to a distrust of public programmes", says Hansford.
"It's always the provinces that have borne the worst brunt of neo-liberal policy", he says, and it's no coincidence that the provinces often bear the brunt of 1080 drops.
"Is it any wonder there's so much anti-DOC sentiment when DOC is the most visible remaining face of government" in the provinces?
We need "nothing short of a political revolution," he says. "We have to come up with governance that re-empowers people, re-engages them with public decision making, that makes them feel they count.
"I don't understand how we can expect people to engage constructively when they are feeling so resentful and bitter about . . . a system that they consider has let them down."
Wow, we are a long way from 1080.
Hansford has had 39 jobs, according to a friend's calculation. Among others, he's been a fisherman, a truck driver, a golf green keeper, a general hand on a farm and a pie baker.
In the mid-1980s, he got a job as a photo journalist in Auckland and later transferred to Wellington to work on the old Dominion newspaper. He then accomplished a rare manoeuvre, transferring from news photography to news writing.
He spotted a gap in environmental coverage and specialised. That's how he learned to read and critique scientific journals, some of the most tedious reading on the planet.
For the past 15 years or so, he's been a freelance journalist and now writes a column for New Zealand Geographic magazine.
This isn't a way to get rich. Hansford estimates the book made $192 a week in the 18 months since he started researching. That's a little less than $15,000.
"There's no money in New Zealand books, especially science books," he says. His wife pays the bills.
Reading this book, you get the sense that Hansford isn't afraid of a fight and can take a few blows. "What I have heard unendingly is I must be in the pay of DOC or the government." They say, "you are a shill sent out to spread misinformation about 1080," he says.
Opponents went "straight for the jugular and attacked my integrity".
For the record, "I'm not a shill or paid by DOC", he says.
These attacks are one reason Hansford didn't do a book tour and rarely speaks publicly. His address near Nelson is secret.
But it also speaks to a wider problem: 1080 isn't the most divisive issue facing New Zealanders. "Wait until someone suggests releasing genetically edited organisms into the environment", a future technology many think will be needed to achieve predator free status.
"We have to up our game on how we inform and discuss science-based issues," Hansford says. "It's critically important to the major issues the next generation will face – climate change, fresh water, land use, biodiversity loss."
He calls for more social research. "We need to better understand . . . why people chose not to trust science and why they chose instead to invest in mythology."
"We discuss and conduct science . . . very poorly indeed and the degree of opposition to 1080 is testament to that fact," says Hansford.