1080 cereal bait pellets
Image: Herb Christophers | DOC
What is 1080?
1080 is the common name for a biodegradable poison called sodium fluoroacetate. It's made synthetically, but fluoroacetate is also produced naturally by some plants to deter browsing.
What's in 1080 bait?
Cereal, sugar, flavour and dye are added to most of the 1080 pellets used for pest control in New Zealand.
The toxin is 0.15% of the bait.
Deer repellent may also be added.
Then and now
Modern 1080 operations have little in common with those of the 1960s. Unfortunately, old stories continue to circulate, creating a false picture of today’s conservation efforts.
Early operations conducted by the New Zealand Forest Service used:
- cubed carrots sprayed with 1080 to target possums and rabbits
- sow rates of up to 32 kg per hectare
- wide bait spreading from light aircraft.
This high bait loading, combined with many small bait fragments, or ‘chaff’, led to high rates of poisoning in non-target species in certain cases.
Extensive research and development has changed the way DOC and other organisations use 1080.
In today’s operations:
- baits are dyed green to deter birds
- baits are scented with a cinnamon lure, attractive to possums and rats but not birds
- cereal pellets incorporate 1080 into a complex ‘bait matrix’ and are chaff-free
- sow rates have been reduced to just 1–3 kg per hectare
- helicopter flightpaths are guided and logged using GPS to ensure accurate, consistent delivery, cross-checked by geo-spatial (mapping) analysts on the ground.
The above improvements have almost eliminated bird by-kill. Monitoring results and independent research have proven that 1080 effectively protects New Zealand’s native wildlife.