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New Zealand Journal of Forestry (2011) 56(3): 5–8
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry

Feature article
Possum Management Using Aerial 1080 – Not New, Definitely Improved

Penny Fisher 1, Graham Nugent 1, David Morgan 1, Bruce Warburton 1, Phil Cowan 1 and Janine Duckworth 1

1 Researcher, Pest Control Technologies Team, Landcare Research

Possum poisons in New Zealand A number of poisons are currently registered in New Zealand for management of brushtail possums, a major introduced pest. Use of some ‘old’ pesticides such as strychnine, arsenic and warfarin has been discontinued, while others of similar vintage including sodium fluoroacetate (1080), cyanide and phosphorus are still used for ground-based possum control. Since the early 1990s two additional compounds, the anticoagulant brodifacoum and the Vitamin D analogue cholecalciferol, have been registered for ground-based possum control (Eason et al. 1994). In contrast, there is only one pesticide, 1080, that is currently registered for aerial application in mainland possum control. As such it has become a crucial tool in large-scale management of possum as vectors of bovine TB and as conservation pests. The first NZ applications of 1080 were in the 1950s for rabbit control, when it was noted “..its properties..commend it for the control of all mammalian pests and as it is likely to be used more widely in this country… it is desirable that farmers, hunters, and others should be informed about its nature and properties” (McIntosh 1958). In 2011 an independent review concluded that 1080 was the most cost effective of the vertebrate pesticides currently used in New Zealand for broad-scale possum management (Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment 2011). It is also the best-described in a toxicological and environmental risk assessment context (Eason et al. 2011), subject to the most stringent regulatory controls and reporting requirements (Environmental Risk Management Authority 2007), and yet attracts the most pronounced spectrum of positive and negative perceptions regarding the risks of its use (Green & Rohan 2011). However, any discussion of risk alone is unbalanced without considering the benefits, and rationale for the selection of 1080 from a range of alternative possum control methods.
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