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The benefits of 1080 and why DOC uses it.

The benefits of 1080 and why DOC uses it.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) uses aerial application of sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) as a valuable biodiversity protection tool to control mammalian pests that threaten conservation values.

• If it did not work, DOC would not use it.
• If there was a net detrimental effect on the environment, DOC would not use it.
• If its use threatened human health, DOC would not use it.
• If the risks were too high, DOC would not use it.

By using 1080 to manage possum, rat and stoat populations, it allow birds to breed and survive, allow forest canopies to recover from over browsing, allows trees to flower and fruit and produce seedlings before reinvasion by pests.
Conservation pest control is prioritised so that approximately 300,000ha of public conservation land in total is managed annually by all methods (traps & toxins) and only about 150,000ha is treated with 1080. Most operations involve a mix of control methods

1080 is the only toxin that can be applied aerially for pest control and for this reason it is invaluable because of the ability to manage pests efficiently in large scale remote and difficult terrain. Alternative ground control methods are less effective or less efficient and often too dangerous to consider for some operations because of difficult terrain.

Where DOC uses 1080, benefits have accrued. A recent example is the success of blue duck (whio) and kiwi breeding in the Tongariro Forest.
The difference that 1080 is making to the survival of our native blue ducks is demonstrated in last year’s records of blue duck numbers where 1080 was applied.
On the Whanganui River where there was no 1080 application, chick survival to fledging was just 30 percent. On the Mangatepopo River, where 1080 was applied on one side of river, chick survival to fledging was 36 percent. Compare this to the Whakapapa River, where both sides of the river were treated with 1080, and chick survival was exceptional with fledging at 88 percent. This contrasts hugely with previous years productivity on the Whakapapa, when no pest control was undertaken - no chicks hatched or fledged.

Kiwi too are trilling their approval of 1080. Stoats are a main agent of decline for kiwi because 95% of kiwi chicks are killed by stoats in uncontrolled areas. The chance of surviving to a weight where it might defend itself from stoat attack are slim at best for a kiwi chick. Following the 1080 pest control operation, kiwi chick survival has skyrocketed in the monitored population to 64%. These findings add to our growing understanding that a well executed aerial 1080 operation for possums allows a pulse of kiwi recruitment into a population – plus benefits for other forest birds.

Environmental fate of 1080 is closely monitored
Ten Eighty is a simple organic molecule that can easily be manufactured but the active ingredient is a naturally occurring browsing deterrent in more that 40 West Australian plants. Possums in New Zealand come from the eastern seaboard of Australia and are more susceptible to the toxin, unlike their West Australian cousins who are more resilient.
New Zealand uses a very high percentage of the world’s synthetic production of 1080 because the target pests are introduced mammals. New Zealand’s lack of vulnerable native terrestrial mammals makes 1080 a very good tool for native species protection. Other countries do not use 1080 to the same extent for pest control, because 1080 is particularly toxic to their native mammals.

More than 2000 water samples over the last 16 years have been tested immediately after operations for 1080 residues as part of on-going monitoring.
The Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand issued by the Ministry of Health specify a Provisional Maximum Acceptable Value (PMAV) for 1080 in water of 3.5ppb. This level is not considered to cause any significant risk of health to the consumer over a lifetime of consumption. A figure of 2ppb is applied to testing water for 1080 as a further precautionary measure. Less than 0.5% of all samples, has exceeded 2ppb and in all cases, only transiently before breakdown and dilution reduce it to undetectable levels. No 1080 has ever been found in any drinking water. 1080 does not accumulate in the environment. Tests to check the rate of breakdown of 1080 at colder temperatures are continuing.

The use of 1080 has generated much misinformation about its use, fate in the environment and risks and benefits. To ally people’s concerns, the Department of Conservation and the Animal Health Board sought to have the use of 1080 reassessed Environmental Risk Management Authority.
The process took a number of years from 2004- 2007, with generous public input and the final decision from ERMA after a detailed analysis was that the benefits of the continued use of 1080 outweighed the perceived risks.

The Department has taken on board all of the recommendations from the ERMA reassessment to improve its operations and community relations around 1080 use. The birds and their habitats like the outcome too. With no viable alternative in sight in spite of many years of research, the use of 1080, under strict guidelines, will continue to be the saviour of native species and habitats.

The Animal Health Board (AHB) uses aerial 1080 to manage possums which are vectors for bovine tuberculosis. Protecting domestic cattle and deer herds ensures guaranteed access to overseas markets to maintain our lifestyle based on primary produce exports.
As well as managing herd movements, AHB manages approximately 400,000Ha by aerial 1080 for possum control to stifle the spread of the disease in wildlife. Much of the work done by AHB is on public conservation land, mainly on bush/pasture margins and in areas known to have infected possums. AHB hopes to eradicate Tb from possums, the key source of re-infection, by 2013.

Today, in a well regulated environment, the use of 1080 as a conservation pest control tool is making real differences for threatened wildlife and their habitats. With continual improvements, continual research and better public involvement, the benefits of the use of 1080 will continue to outweigh the perceived risks.

References: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/cps/rde/xbcr/dpi/IPA-1080-PA5.pdf
Ceylon tea may contain 50–160 ng/g monofluoroacetate, China Green Tea may contain 230 ng/g monofluoroacetate ( Vartiainen and Kauranen, 1984)
Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) risk assessment and risk communication (Charles Eason: toxicology 181-182 (2002) 523-530

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