Pesticide 1080 an emotional issue

Anti-1080 protestors received support from local drivers as they demonstrated outside the Kaipara District Council building on Sunday

Protestors raised banners and signs in support of the nationwide march to stop the use of the pesticide 1080 in New Zealand. Dargaville residents and visitors tooted their support as they drove past the Kaipara District Council building on Sunday.

Local hunters and others joined the thousands around the country, including environmental groups, calling for a ban on the pesticide — claiming it killed native birds, commonly hunted wildlife, domestic livestock and dogs, and affected waterways.

“We would prefer land baiting and shooting rather than aerial 1080 because of the uncontrolled drops landing in waterways, and they (DOC) can’t confirm there is no second-hand poisoning,” said protester Tracey Holster. Tracey’s family members professedly earn a living from trapping possums and selling the fur — her brother has done so for more than 20 years. Traps are around $8 each, and he sets up to 160 at a time. About 20–25 possums net one kilogram of fur, which sells for between $100–$120.

The lightweight and insulating fur is popular in the garment industry, and according to some sources, is 8% warmer and 14% lighter than wool.

The protestors were unable to provide a suitable alternative idea for the removal of other pests such as rats, mice, stoats and feral cats.

Agencies such as Federated Farmers, Forest and Bird, and DOC agree that the use of biodegradable 1080 is the most effective tool currently available for suppressing pests in large, difficult to access areas, where most of New Zealand’s native wildlife lives.

These organisations claim it is backed by years of rigorous testing, review and research by scientists from Landcare Research, Universities, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ministry of Health and the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

According to some of these studies, 1080 leaches from baits in water into toxicologically insignificant amounts within 12 hours, and the chemical would not be in the environment for long due to bacterial breakdown.

“If it was as unsafe as some would say, we wouldn’t be using it,” said DOC principal adviser, Herb Christophers.

The imported pesticide is mixed into a cereal-based bait and is spread at a concentration rate of 1.5kg/ha, compared to 15kg/ha approximately 20 years ago.

Deaths of non-target species are reported through an inadvertent spread of pellets. Some animals, such as dogs, are more susceptible to poisoning, being affected by approximately less than one eighth the lethal dose for a possum.

Secondary poisoning occurs when an animal or bird eats a recently deceased carcase. Studies have shown that 1080 concentrations peak in most species after six hours, concluding that prolonged persistence is unlikely.

Pro-1080 trappers have stated an opinion that all species of pests needed eradicating for native bush and wildlife to thrive.

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