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1080 Use Increased In 2022

The number of aerial 1080 operations increased and covered a greater area in 2022, the Environmental Protection Authority’s annual report on the aerial pest control operations shows.

However, the trend over the past 11 years shows little change in the number of operations or the area covered.

The total area treated in 2022 was 682,205 hectares, up from the previous year’s 468,688 hectares.

The total number of operations was 55, compared with the previous year’s 45.

Increases in 2022 were due to a mast year, when native trees produce many seeds, boosting the number of introduced pests, which in turn threaten native wildlife.

The West Coast had the largest area treated with 1080 - 265,085 hectares. Canterbury was second largest with 100,188 hectares.

Auckland, Gisborne, Nelson, Tasman, and Southland had no aerial 1080 operations in 2022.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) and OSPRI New Zealand Ltd were the main funders of 1080 operations.

Operations have conservation aims, such as protecting native wildlife and plants from introduced pests, and economic aims, such as protecting livestock from bovine TB which can be carried and transmitted by possums.

The EPA’s report summarises the aerial application of 1080 baits and pest control research from 1 January to 31 December 2022. The information comes from the operators’ reports.

Trends for 1080 operations

Since 2011, operations have remained generally consistent, with a minor trend up in area and a minor decrease in the number of operations.

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Reported incidents

Operators reported 24 incidents for 14 of the operations. Four of the incidents resulted in non-compliance under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Incidents of note were:

  • 556 karoro (black-backed gulls) died after consuming 1080 poison at South Ōkārito in November 2021. A dog died after likely consuming the carcass of a karoro. This 1080 operation was carried out in several stages and concluded in 2022, which is why the incidents are included in this report. The EPA’s investigation in 2022 found that the Ōkārito incident followed the permission conditions set by DOC. In response to the incident, DOC updated its processes to ensure the risk to karoro was more appropriately considered and managed in later phases of the operation.
  • Seven kea and several feral cats being monitored in a research project in Arthur’s Pass East died after a 1080 application.
  • Farmers received threats in relation to 1080 operations on their properties.

The EPA followed up on all incidents.

Targeted pests

Most operations in 2022 targeted possums and rats, sometimes individually but often together. A total of 38 operations targeted possums, and 23 targeted rats.

The number of operations aimed at wallabies has risen in the past two years, with three in 2020, eight in 2021, and 13 in 2022. This is in line with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ programme to rid New Zealand of wallabies.


A total of 20 operations included water monitoring, with 152 samples taken - the second highest since 2011.

Four tests had detectable traces of 1080, but all were below the maximum level allowed.


There were 42 pest control research projects in 2022:

  • 35 ongoing from previous years
  • Two new projects
  • Five completed

DOC led about one-third of all research projects.

Annual reporting on aerial 1080

The EPA reports annually on the aerial use of 1080, including how operations were run and monitored, any incidents, and the outcomes. The 1080 annual reports are based on the reports 1080 operators must submit to the EPA within six months of their operation.

"Our 1080 annual report pulls together these operational reports to provide a collective nationwide view of New Zealand’s aerial use of 1080. This information enables a better understanding of the use, the risks and the benefits of aerial operations involving 1080," said the EPA’s Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement General Manager, Gayle Holmes.

Aerial 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2022 annual report

Read more about the use of 1080


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