A new toxin for the control of mammalian pests, thought to be the first registered in the world for at least twenty years, has been developed in New Zealand.
Its use will strengthen the ability of pest control agencies to better control stoats, and feral cats, according to Department of Conservation scientist Dr Elaine Murphy, who has been working on its development.
The Department of Conservation has welcomed the approval by the Environmental Risk Management Authority for the new poison which is known as PAPP (para- aminopropriophenone). Stoats pose a huge threat to threatened native species like kiwi, and DOC is continually looking at improving the range of weapons we have for controlling these imported killers.
"The Department has played a leading role, coordinating research on this new toxin in New Zealand and has invested significantly in its product development, working alongside its commercial partner Connovation Ltd, to reach registration. Work on the new poison has been going on since 2000 and a total of around $1,000,000 has been invested by DOC and Connovation.
"One significant reason we have gone for PAPP is because of its humaneness. It works very quickly, as stoats become unconscious within about 15 minutes, and die shortly afterwards There is also an antidote available which significantly reduces the risks to non target species.
"The availability of this new toxin reinforces the concept of the pest control toolbox where a variety of methods are available for use, depending on factors such as the ease of access and site location of the area being managed," Dr Murphy said.
The Department currently maintains stoat traps over 250,000 hectares and they will continue to be the preferred method of stoat control in many situations. But PAPP will offer an alternative in areas such as remote locations, or when a quick result is needed for stoat control. The product will be available in both paste and bait forms.
PAPP works as a red blood cell toxin, by preventing the haemoglobin from carrying oxygen. Its mode of action is similar to carbon monoxide poisoning.
It should be noted that PAPP is not an alternative to the ongoing use of 1080, as it does not have an impact on possums and rats.
The work by DOC and Connovation builds on research undertaken by the then Department of Natural Resources & Environment, Victoria, Australia in the 1990s, and has included collaboration with Landcare Research, Lincoln University, and the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre of Australia.