1080 not a problem in water

LETTER

Alain Jorion (9 May 2018) is concerned at the possibility of 1080 being used for pest control in Gisborne’s water catchment area. I’d just like to reassure Alain that as Dr Mike Joy says, 1080 in fresh water is not a problem.

Thousands of water samples have been taken after 1080 drops. No water sample from the intake for a municipal water supply has ever tested positive for 1080; 96 percent of all samples have been completely clear of 1080; 4 percent, from small streams in the bush, have found very low levels — 1 or 2 parts per billion or even less — which disappear within 24 hours.

Wellington’s water supply catchments get 1080 every three years or so, and no 1080 has ever been detected in the water supply.

There are two things about 1080 which make it safe in fresh water. First, it dilutes very rapidly and becomes an undetectably small fraction of the water. Second, it is broken down by common soil bacteria and fungi, which are present in all natural water.

Alain is wrong when he says that 1080 has been found to kill eels and crayfish. They have experimented with feeding these animals 1080 baits and poisoned possums. No animals died from 1080. Their flesh was found to contain a low level of 1080 which was excreted over the course of a few days.

When Alain challenges councillors to “put 1080 pellets in a water container and drink it”, he misunderstands the power of dilution. If you drink a glass of water with an 8-gram bait in it, you will take in 12mg 1080 — not advisable. If you drink from a stream three days after a 1080 drop — as I have done — you will take in no 1080.

I urge the people of Gisborne not to be swayed by anti-science scare tactics when you are making the best choice for Gisborne’s pest control.

Sue Boyde, Paraparaumu

Alain Jorion (9 May 2018) is concerned at the possibility of 1080 being used for pest control in Gisborne’s water catchment area. I’d just like to reassure Alain that as Dr Mike Joy says, 1080 in fresh water is not a problem.

Thousands of water samples have been taken after 1080 drops. No water sample from the intake for a municipal water supply has ever tested positive for 1080; 96 percent of all samples have been completely clear of 1080; 4 percent, from small streams in the bush, have found very low levels — 1 or 2 parts per billion or even less — which disappear within 24 hours.

Wellington’s water supply catchments get 1080 every three years or so, and no 1080 has ever been detected in the water supply.

There are two things about 1080 which make it safe in fresh water. First, it dilutes very rapidly and becomes an undetectably small fraction of the water. Second, it is broken down by common soil bacteria and fungi, which are present in all natural water.

Alain is wrong when he says that 1080 has been found to kill eels and crayfish. They have experimented with feeding these animals 1080 baits and poisoned possums. No animals died from 1080. Their flesh was found to contain a low level of 1080 which was excreted over the course of a few days.

When Alain challenges councillors to “put 1080 pellets in a water container and drink it”, he misunderstands the power of dilution. If you drink a glass of water with an 8-gram bait in it, you will take in 12mg 1080 — not advisable. If you drink from a stream three days after a 1080 drop — as I have done — you will take in no 1080.

I urge the people of Gisborne not to be swayed by anti-science scare tactics when you are making the best choice for Gisborne’s pest control.

Sue Boyde, Paraparaumu

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Baz Davies - 4 months ago
I guess it's the thought of 1080 in the water that most people object to. But the real problem is the amount of dead animals rotting in our water supply that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
We used to carry out a culling operation in the water catchment on an annual basis. All of this catchment can easily be covered by a ground-based poisoning and trapping programme.
This eliminates non-target species being poisoned and focuses on the target species. In my view the No.1 pests in NZ are stoats, weasels, ferrets, wild cats, possoms, rats and mice.
The mustelid family of pests predate mainly on rats and mice. They do not readily eat pellets or dead animals. Rats and mice eat the pellets and when the population of rats and mice declines, mustelids will feed on the birdlife.
Controlling these pests involves specialised trapping that targets that species.
1080 is not winning the war against pests - it's an indiscriminate killer, a short fix that needs to be applied every few years to temporarily decrease pest populations.
After more than 60 years of 1080 use, the only places that are pest-free are offshore island sanctuaries and areas enclosed by pest-proof fences.
Problem is, what other options are available at this time to protect our birdlife?

Mary Molloy, Farmers Against Ten Eighty - 3 months ago
Dear Sue Jensen Boyd, of course 1080 is not safe in water. The Ministry of Health is quite clear that it does not say 1080 is safe in water. The breakdown of 1080 in water (separation of its molecules) only takes place under very specific circumstances and it is mischievous and down-right dangerous to say it is safe. These conditions are still water in sunlight and at temps of 20-30 degrees, not very common in NZ bush. Think about taking a headache pill, it also dissolves in water, BUT it remains effective.

The breakdown in soil is abysmally slow, needing one of two organisms to assist this and these organisms are very rare in NZ. In the meantime leaf litter "imbibes" 1080, ryegrasses have been verified as taking up 1080 from the soil, as have a range of common vegetables.

Animals both wild and domestic are regularly killed by 1080, as is a range of our native biota including insects and native and endemic birds.

You do not need 1080 in the Gisborne/Poverty Bay area, it does nothing except make our wild biota more vulnerable.

Poisoners have been despised throughout the ages and those supporting this poison in NZ will find their place amongst them.

Yes I am amongst the anti-1080 and a farmer and a person who has been forced to endure and witness the consequences since the early 1980s, and I know we have used 1080 in NZ for over 60 years now. There is plenty of evidence in both DoC and Landcare studies which show unexpected and unwanted consequences of using 1080. It is very important to read the science in full and ignore the propaganda.

Footnote from Ed: Here are links to the two studies produced in 2011 and 2013 after a comprehensive investigation of the science by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment:

http://www.pce.parliament.nz/media/1294/evaluating-the-use-of-1080.pdf

http://www.pce.parliament.nz/media/1229/1080-update-report-web-2015.pdf

Here's an introduction to the 2013 update report:

http://www.pce.parliament.nz/publications/update-report-evaluating-the-use-of-1080-predators-poisons-and-silent-forests

Marcus James, Hangaroa - 3 months ago
It's drinking from the stream during the four to eight hour window that is one of the most dangerous times.

Next most dangerous time is when 50mm or more washes the third dose of 1080 (dose No.2 was the poisoned animals falling into the water during their days-long death throes).

Unless you live within 3km of the drop zone. Then your most dangerous times will be when the first few showers wash the dust into your rainwater tank - polluting your family's water for months to come.

The reasons so few samples test positive is because most streams are not tested until at least 24 hours after they drop the pellets in.

Other than that I agree with Sue from Paraparaumu.

Only thing I can't understand is why no warning of any sort is given to families with roof top rainwater collection systems - perhaps Sue could enlighten us?

Grant Vincent, Chair, Forest - 3 months ago
There is a lot of misunderstanding about 1080 baits in water.

In an aerial operation baits usually end up being about 3-4 in an area about the size of a tennis court. Obviously some will end up in waterways although any larger ones can be avoided. Considering these low sowing densities of the 1080 baits, very few end up in water. Just think about how many thousands of hectares of land can be covered in an aerial operation and how many square metres of steams there will be in that area - think about the maths.

Drinking water from a stream within 8hrs of a drop would not be a problem; you'd need to drink about 250 litres (for a tiny amount of 1080) all at once. Good luck with that. I'm sure we've all seen people trying to drink a yard glass of beer and guzzling that much water you'd have trouble keeping that down as well.

Where aerial 1080 has been used it is winning the war against pests. Yes, temporarily but if nothing was done at a large scale then many populations of many native species would be heading for extinction in those places. At times of heavy seeding, rat, mice and stoat populations explode and ground trapping is just not effective. Witness the local extinction of mohua in the Hurunui valleys in the early 2000s.

A common catch-cry is that 1080 kills large numbers of insects. It doesn't. Many insects don't even have chewing mouthparts capable of gnawing on a 1080 bait. 1080 baits are widely scattered, many insects and other invertebrates don't move very far so rarely come into contact with a poison bait let alone try to eat it. If you are concerned about a few insects that might die from a 1080 bait, consider how many thousands are eaten every day and night by rats, mice and possums in just a few hectares where there will be some 1080 baits that 95% of insects won't even see.

The only thing that is making our wild biota more vulnerable is not doing anything about pests.

I'm not sure why there is a concern about 1080 dust getting into roof and tank water supplies, the 1080 is dropped as 12gm cereal pellets, not sprayed around as a dust. Plus there are exclusion zones around habitation.

The organisms and fungi found in soil and water which break down 1080 are not rare in New Zealand. Also, a few 1080 pellets in water are no danger to tuna (eels) or koura (freshwater crayfish). The research has been done, proper science and not pro-1080 propaganda as some would have it.