If In Doubt, Throw 1080 At It

This flood of food (beech seeds) will trigger a plague of an additional 30 million rats and tens of thousands of stoats… according to Conservation Minister, Nick Smith

1080 Poison and Bovine Tuberculosis

By Leslie Clague

Bovine TBWhen New Zealand started using 1080 poison 50 years ago, the purpose was to control Bovine TB in cattle herds, the belief being that possums spread the disease.

With dairy farming so much on the rise these days, the possum TB threat is still seen as real.

As a matter of fact, as I write this article, an aerial possum control using 1080 has been advertised in the local paper to take place in the Rangitoto Range, between Te Kuiti and Mangakino.

What Do the Australians Do About Bovine TB?

Australian cattleThinking about this issue, I wondered what the situation was with Bovine TB in Australia where possums are natives. I came across Australia’s Freedom from Bovine Tuberculosis (TB), published by Australia Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry online. It states that Australia declared itself officially free from bovine TB in 1997 after an intensive national eradication program which began in 1970.

The Australian method was to slaughter infected herds and give compensation to farmers. Movement controls, quarantine regulations and strict importation requirements were put in place. The publication states that Australia did not have reservoirs of TB in wildlife that could re-infect the cattle population. In the north of the country feral cattle and buffaloes were trapped or located by radio-tracking tracer animals and removed. No possums as carriers of TB are mentioned.

Interestingly, in the U.K. new research has proved that its tuberculosis threat requires a mass cull of cattle, not badgers, who have been claimed to be the culprits, similar to possums here in New Zealand.

Get the plague of rats!

Nick Smith and ratsBut now there’s a new enemy demanding massive 1080 drops. It is not the possum and it is not against bovine TB. It is the rat, according to Nick Smith now and it is our native bird population that we are rescuing. (Cartoon by Martin Doyle. Click on it to enlarge.)

Bill Benfield, author of The Third Wave: Poisoning the Land got very clear in a letter he wrote to the Dominion Post in mid-July: DOC’s claims of exploding rat populations are not supported by observation.”

DOC has been blaming high quantity of beech forest seed this year as driving an increase in rat populations. Benfield notes: The masting started in late summer with the high tussock and went on into autumn with seeding in the beech forest. There were no more rats than usual, because you need favourable conditions the year before, plus a mild preceding winter to have a big-enough carryover population to breed up to plague levels the following year. That was never there. Do you see countless rodent eyes in the headlights as you drive at night?

The answer is an emphatic “No!”

DOC has gained another $21 million in public money to broadly poison our unique forests and wildlife, letting creatures die slow, agonising deaths.

1080 around the world

1080 pure crueltyInterestingly
~ Australia does use some 1080 to control rabbits, but nowhere near the quantity used in New Zealand.
~ The poison is also used in Mexico, Japan, Korea, and Israel.
~ There is very restricted use in the U.S. in sheep-coyote collars.
~ Most other countries have banned 1080 because of concerns regarding potential human and other off-target poisoning.

Let’s hope this issue gets widely debated in our election campaign.


Nick Smith wouldn’t know what a Tb vector was if it bit him on his rather large ego! I see his family sold farmland the TeeOng family like the the other National supporters. Sold out for the almighty dollar eh Nick?

A good article by Leslie Clague. Unfortunately the money / power grabbing politicians are not interested in either the environment or the people they serve. Look closely at the political parties before voting this year, a vote for the two major parties is a vote for 1080.

Correction. Widespread use of 1080 Poison in NZ was first used in 1952 to kill rabbits. Rabbit Boards used huge quantities of 1080 laced carrot baits during the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was not until the 1980’s that TBfreeNZ (at that time called AHB (Animal Health Board) started the widespread poisoning of native bush to kill possums. In between Government experimented with poisoning deer and Himalyan Thar.
Wild animals do not spread Bovine Tb to cattle, it has never been proven, in fact it seems that the opposite is true. Cattle pass the disease on to Wildlife. Not much chance of them doing it any more. 1080 has killed most of our wildlife where it is used close to farms.

I suppose because the the Government owned factory that produces the super toxic 1080 baits it needs to return a profit so any excuse at all to keep the returns high will do, it seems to be the mythical rat plague is the excuse this year