1080

Weighing up the pros and cons.

Weighing up the pros and cons.

Picture supplied, Michael Hepburn.

Before I go any further, the definition of pesticide, according to Google dictionary, is “a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals”. So the Department of Conservation (DoC) has been dropping 1080 pallets from helicopters on rural land to kill pests like rats, possums and stoats.

This way native wildlife, like the kea and kiwi, which are listed under the endangered animals category, are protected. Because of this, people believe that 1080 is ideal, obviously the best solution for keeping our national mascot, the kiwi, safe from extinction. But there are several noted downsides to this procedure that has made 1080 an issue.

The Downsides:

A number of farmers and rural residents throughout the country have claimed that 1080 is a potential contaminant of rivers and water supplies. Some of these farmers have also proved that livestock and family pets have mistakenly eaten 1080, which has resulted in them having slow, painful and agonising deaths.

There are even videos on YouTube of these deaths if you think you are brave, or even curious, enough to watch them. A political group named Ban 1080 claim that 1080 is not the answer, as it does not choose which animals it kills. They say that the pesticide is a danger and a potential death sentence to all animals.

The Positive Side:

But not everyone’s response to 1080 is negative. Groups like DoC, TBfree New Zealand and both National and Labour parties support 1080 as being the best option for pest control.

DoC says that 1080 is at its best when it is applied properly, and that problems only arise when the process has been poorly undertaken. DoC also states that 1080 is highly soluble in water and that it doesn’t leave permanent residues in rivers that could kill animals. DoC has also monitored 430 kiwi over a decade and none has been poisoned by 1080.

My conclusion:

So 1080 isn’t that bad after all? If you weigh up the pros and cons, you’ll see that it is balanced as both sides have strong and valid opinions. Nevertheless, I say that 1080 should continue to be our main method of pest control in the short term, until a better alternative is developed — like a toxin that only kills pests and pests alone, eliminating the big issue of by-kill.

I propose this because 1080 does do its job at terminating pests, and that the by-kill is just a difficult side effect to avoid.

Before I go any further, the definition of pesticide, according to Google dictionary, is “a substance used for destroying insects or other organisms harmful to cultivated plants or to animals”. So the Department of Conservation (DoC) has been dropping 1080 pallets from helicopters on rural land to kill pests like rats, possums and stoats.

This way native wildlife, like the kea and kiwi, which are listed under the endangered animals category, are protected. Because of this, people believe that 1080 is ideal, obviously the best solution for keeping our national mascot, the kiwi, safe from extinction. But there are several noted downsides to this procedure that has made 1080 an issue.

The Downsides:

A number of farmers and rural residents throughout the country have claimed that 1080 is a potential contaminant of rivers and water supplies. Some of these farmers have also proved that livestock and family pets have mistakenly eaten 1080, which has resulted in them having slow, painful and agonising deaths.

There are even videos on YouTube of these deaths if you think you are brave, or even curious, enough to watch them. A political group named Ban 1080 claim that 1080 is not the answer, as it does not choose which animals it kills. They say that the pesticide is a danger and a potential death sentence to all animals.

The Positive Side:

But not everyone’s response to 1080 is negative. Groups like DoC, TBfree New Zealand and both National and Labour parties support 1080 as being the best option for pest control.

DoC says that 1080 is at its best when it is applied properly, and that problems only arise when the process has been poorly undertaken. DoC also states that 1080 is highly soluble in water and that it doesn’t leave permanent residues in rivers that could kill animals. DoC has also monitored 430 kiwi over a decade and none has been poisoned by 1080.

My conclusion:

So 1080 isn’t that bad after all? If you weigh up the pros and cons, you’ll see that it is balanced as both sides have strong and valid opinions. Nevertheless, I say that 1080 should continue to be our main method of pest control in the short term, until a better alternative is developed — like a toxin that only kills pests and pests alone, eliminating the big issue of by-kill.

I propose this because 1080 does do its job at terminating pests, and that the by-kill is just a difficult side effect to avoid.

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Sue Boyde - 2 years ago
I disagree with Charles Smith that the pros and cons of 1080 are evenly balanced. 1080 does not contaminate water supplies. It dilutes so rapidly that the water samples that are taken after 1080 drops seldom detect even the smallest trace of it. It has never been found in a municipal water supply.
There have been cases in the past 20 years of 1080 being dropped on farmland by mistake, but this is very rare, and DOC compensated the farmer in each case. Dogs are very vulnerable to 1080, but owners can protect them from harm by keeping them out of drop zones and preventing them from scavenging carcases. Residents near a drop zone are provided with muzzles for their dogs.
For most NZ native species, few individuals die from 1080 as the pellets (not pallets, Charles!) are not attractive to them. Kea are the exception to this rule, but even if they lose 3-10% of their numbers from a 1080 drop, the end result is more kea in the population after the first breeding season, because their eggs and chicks are not being eaten by rats, stoats and possums - which is the reason for using 1080. By killing possums, 1080 also removes a reservoir of bovine TB.

Mary, Farmers Against 1080 - 2 years ago
Well it is nice to see someone who is prepared to look at both sides of the story no matter how superficially. 1080 however remains without an antidote, is colourless, tasteless and odourless. It remains in water until certain conditions exist to breakdown the chemical bond and those conditions are, temps of 20 to 30 degrees, still water and sunshine. I know that Gisborne gets very hot but does the water reach those parameters? Not often in most of NZ. 1080 is imbibed into cellulose hence it kills insects feeding on such plants or leaf litter. It kills a wide range of all of our native birdlife, DoC's figures are from 10 to 80% in any one drop.
Therefore it is difficult to see how it can benefit our native species and plants (which depend on insects and birds to fertilise them) or the birds and insects themselves. It poses risks to people who inhale the dust and live in or near areas where it is used. 1080 remains a great terrorist weapon and we are stupid to use it in NZ for anything.

Willie Wilson - 2 years ago
My reply to Charles Smith would be that he needs to do a lot more research into 1080, its effects on wildlife, its effects on humans, the fact it has been used for 60 years and hasn't worked. By the way, 1080 has killed kiwi and will keep killing kiwi and all native birds and animals as long as its used. Read some of the DoC online results, this may enlighten you.

Footnote: Also read the very thorough reports on 1080 use in New Zealand by the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright. Ed

Tricia Cheel - 2 years ago
Oh Dear Charles - it sounds as though you believe everything DOC says and yet you say you have watched the videos where not only do the animals suffer a prolonged and agonising death, DOC has actually asked farmers that have lost stock to record their compensation as track maintenance or stock feed!
Some things are simply inexcusable and even if there was no by-kill, it is still no way to despatch any animal in a civilised society.

vicki - 2 years ago
After reading this article all I have come away with is that The Gisborne Herald publishes stories that lack any form of research and factual information. Using figures supplied by DOC about one type of bird (one that digs for food beneath the surface layer and eats things like worms), DOC can't even agree on their own facts and figures - if you were a proper journalist and newspaper how about you research your subject a bit more? What about all the other monitored birds that can no longer be found? This information supplied by DOC is only from the past 10 years, what about all the other years 1080 has been used prior to this? DOC also states "when applied correctly"; where is the evidence that Doc does this? How do 1080 pellets get into water ways and on public access tracks when they claim that they do not apply it near either of these?
As for using it until a better alternative is developed - there are alternatives out there, they simply cost more. I am all for killing pests but how about we do it in a humane way; if I killed my pets by feeding them with 1080 the SPCA could charge me for cruelty to animals - how can DOC get away with this?
How about you contact some of the people who have used 1080 to see what it does rather than talking to a pencil pusher from an office who hasn't seen the effects?
Blind faith is one of the most dangerous things in this world.

Footnote: I Am Youth is a forum for Gisborne district school students to write articles and present their views and their talents.
It is interesting that you accuse the writer of not researching this topic properly, then present a biased anti-1080 position that does not stack up when the facts are assessed dispassionately. This has been done by the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright and her team in a 2011 report which has since been updated; one of her conclusions was that New Zealand should be using more 1080. Ed

ANGRY PERSON - 21 days ago
1080 *sighs* okay 1080 is DEADLY i mean have you seen the videos of these poor, poor animals dying i swear that DOC is posioning the minds of young children that some animals are better than others! 1080 is NOT the answer, it is dangerous and DOC say they care but really they're the ones who are killing the environment. GOOD JOB DOC, MIGHT AS WELL BURN DOWN ALL THE TREES WHILE YOU'RE AT IT EH?

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