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EPA Releases Annual Report On Aerial Use Of 1080

The latest annual report on aerial use of 1080 has been released, showing that while use of the pest control poison increased in 2019, new research into alternatives is continuing.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report, titled 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019, shows there were 44 aerial operations covering 918,000 hectares of land.

Aerial operations rose due to a mega-mast event in 2019, where beech seed, tussock seed, or podocarp fruit flower at once in forests, dropping seed and driving rat populations up, which then threaten native species.

However, the average application rate was just above three grams of 1080 per hectare, which equates to roughly one teaspoonful of 1080 on a rugby field. This is well below the maximum allowable rate of 30 grams per hectare.

Of the 44 aerial operations in 2019, 22 were commissioned by the Department of Conservation (DOC), to protect threatened species from possums, rats, rabbits, and other introduced pests. TBfree Limited funded 11 operations, as part of its efforts to target possums which can pass bovine tuberculosis on to farmed cattle and deer.

"Due to a lack of other effective options, and the destruction caused by pests to our environment and native wildlife, 1080 remains the most viable management tool at this point in time. It is also one of the most tightly controlled hazardous substances in New Zealand," says the EPA’s General Manager of Compliance, Monitoring, and Enforcement, Gayle Holmes.

"Rules covering 1080 aerial operations include that they must all be publicly notified in a local newspaper, and operators must provide information on how they plan to consult with and notify affected parties when they apply for permission to carry out their aerial 1080 operation.

"Following consultation, there were changes to 20 of the 44 operations in 2019. These included modifying the proposed boundaries for the application area in response to feedback, changing operation timing due to stock movement and planned hunting activities, and additional signage."

The EPA investigated two instances of non-compliance with the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, which resulted in advice and formal warning letters being issued.

Sixteen new research projects began in 2019, to improve the efficacy of 1080, and investigate alternatives to its use, led by DOC, Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, OSPRI, Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) and others. In total, there were 53 active research projects in 2019.

The EPA has the legal authority to grant permission to use 1080 and other animal poisons (called vertebrate toxic agents) under the HSNO Act. We have delegated this power to DOC and the Ministry of Health via its public health units.

Read the full report (PDF, 1.24MB)

See a visual summary of the 1080 annual report

Read more about the use of 1080

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