The 1080 debate rolls on… and on

The 1080 debate rolls on… and on

I have never liked the idea of dropping any toxins by air trying to kill as many predators as possible. It always seems such an indiscriminate and inaccurate way to target the desired baddies. I know it’s the fastest way to get the job done and many of our Forests are too steep and rugged to walk and use traps, but there are many stories of the “cowboys” who have been in charge of applying 1080 and this, combined with dubious research on species killed and the amount they have applied, have all contributed to make a lot of People very concerned. Many people do not believe DOC or trust them to be truthful. But there is also a lot of personal opinion and emotion thrown into the debate and many of the stories about bad stuff that “happened ” after a 1080 drop are simply untrue.

However every year or two a “Mast year” arrives. We can tell this by the amount of Beech tree pollen in the air and see the tiny red flowers forming. This means an extra supply of seeds dropped by Native trees providing a lot of food for Rats and Mice and the extra food triggers huge numbers of unwanted vermin. (Stoats and Weasels)

The seed fall at places like Nelson Lakes National park, has been measured at 2,144 (Red Beech) and 1,200 (Mountain Beech). Thats a lot of extra food for Rats and Mice. With a great food supply they breed up very fast.

What to do? The problem is that other toxins  are a contaminate and have a worse long term effect on the environment than 1080 and those that are commonly available through Farmer and hardware supply shops have a “half life” much longer than 1080. (around 12 hours for 1080 and over 24 months for some of the common Rat poisons e.g.: Pestoff (Brodificoum,)  Storm (Flocoumafen,) Coumateralyl )

In other words they kill the baddies, but stay in the soil far longer. When dropping 1080 by air it is hoped that Stoats also get killed when eating dead or dying Rats, but some evidence suggests it isn’t all that good at this and maybe poison like Brodificoum is better, but only effective if used in a bait station and not dropped from the air. Poisons like 1080 and Brodificoum are extremely toxic for animals like Dogs. 1080 can congeal and last in a stomach of a dead animal and if scavenged by a Dog years later the remaining poison will kill it.

You will remember that Tuatara at Natureland died after eating Cockroaches that had consumed Brodificoum (Pestoff) used as Norway rat control from 2 years previously. This clearly shows what a nasty lingering & contaminating poison Brodificoum is.

There are two quite distinct parties who argue about toxins like 1080 being used. Those for 1080, will use known facts to argue it’s “right” to drop it and those against it use values to argue it’s “wrong”. Which ever side you speak to, the debating parties are most unlikely to reach agreement any time soon. However, I believe anything that people do not value or understand will be unlikely to have much effort made to save it and trapping alone will never provide sufficient safety for our threatened species, especially in a mast year when things really get crazy. 1080 is the best toxin available as it gets the job done and is not a serious soil contaminant like the others.

If interested in this debate, don’t simply rely on your personal preference but get informed from proper sources, then you be the judge. There is a breakdown of the research at  Or go to: and in the subject line type  Alternatives to 1080.

Bryce Buckland