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1080 vital for agriculture and the environment

2 November 2006 - Wellington

1080 vital for agriculture and the environment

The use of 1080 in pest control is crucial for the future of both agriculture and the environment, Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers say.

The two organisations have joined forces in support of an application by the Department of Conservation and the Animal Health Board to the Environmental Risk Management Authority to reassess 1080 under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says that 1080 is the best solution presently available to protect New Zealand's forests from the ravages of introduced pests such as possums, rats, stoats and ferrets.

In areas where 1080 has been used native forests have been able to recover from decades of damage caused by browsing of native plants and predation of native birds and other wildlife. In contrast, in some areas where 1080 has not been used, our forests and wildlife are in a serious state of collapse.

"In the last couple of decades 1080 has been the key factor that has allowed our forests to come alive," Kevin Hackwell says. "We have seen that 1080 can be the difference between survival and extinction of some of our most critically endangered species."

Federated Farmers President Charlie Pedersen says 1080 - spread as accurately as possible using the latest technology - has been just as important in protecting the agricultural sector from the threat of bovine tuberculosis.

"Farmers strongly support 1080, the backbone of the Tb eradication scheme. Aerial 1080 application is the only way to cost-effectively and efficiently control possums in steep terrain. Tuberculosis in cattle and deer herds has fallen by more than 90% in the last decade, largely thanks to possum control, and New Zealand is on track to achieve 'official freedom' from Tb by 2013 or earlier," Mr Pedersen says.

Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers believe that the combined benefits of properly controlled use of 1080 to agriculture and the environment means that it is crucial that current approvals for its use be maintained.

1080 facts

* 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) is a synthesised form of a naturally occurring toxin called fluoroacetate that is found in some plants.

* Pest control using 1080 is administered by the Department of Conservation, the Animal Health Board and Regional Councils with the aim of protecting native forests and controlling the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

* 1080 is biodegradable - it breaks down on contact with soil or water into harmless salt and vinegar, and does not persist in the environment.

* Used properly, 1080 is a safe and humane way to reduce animal pests. It is currently the safest, most cost-effective and efficient way to kill possums and other pest species. It is the least toxic poison bait, kills the smallest number of native birds and can be used over large areas of rugged terrain that would otherwise be inaccessible.

* Bovine tuberculosis (Tb) in cattle and deer herds is a major problem for New Zealand agriculture and poses a serious threat to our $8 billion beef, dairy and venison exports. The main source of Tb infection in domestic herds is contact with infected wildlife, particularly possums.

* 1080 has reduced pressure from introduced pests on acutely and chronically threatened native species, including mohua, kakariki, North Island kokako, kaka, Okarito brown kiwi, North and South Island brown kiwi and great spotted kiwi. Without 1080 these species would face local population declines and increased risk of extinction.

* 1080 has had no significant adverse effects on human health.

* Hunting is not an effective means of reducing pests to low enough levels to protect native forests and wildlife, or achieve Tb eradication goals.

* The predicted cost saving for the agricultural sector by using 1080 (compared to trapping and other poisons) over the next 10 years is $50-100 million.

* 1080 can poison dogs but owners are advised before 1080 drops are carried out to keep dogs away or muzzle their animals. Feral deer can also be killed by 1080, sometimes provoking opposition from recreational hunters. However, browsing by deer causes serious harm to native forests and feral deer can carry Tb.

* The application by DOC and the Animal Health Board to ERMA to reassess 1080 will be notified for public submissions, which close on December 16.

ENDS

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