SPCA New Zealand

1080 - what is it, and what can be done about it?

07 January 2019
1080 - what is it, and what can be done about it?

What is 1080?

Sodium Fluoroacetate, more commonly known as 1080, is a poison that is mixed into baits used to control the numbers of a range of species considered to be pests, particularly possums and rats. The use of 1080 and other poisons such as brodifacoum, pindone, and cholecalciferol are part of New Zealand’s goal to become pest-free by 2050.

Is SPCA against 1080?

SPCA is against the use of poisons to kill animals due to the level of suffering they cause, as well as the nature of their use. We would like to see a ban on the use of poisons such as 1080, because these substances cause such intense and prolonged suffering to animals that we believe their use can never be justified.

There should be greater emphasis on looking for solutions that would enable species who cannot be completely removed, to co-exist in the environment instead. SPCA also encourages the research and development of humane alternatives to species control, including the replacement of lethal methods with humane non-lethal methods, such as limiting reproductive abilities.

An example of a human e pest control trap -  A24 gas-powered rat and stoat trap
An example of a human e pest control trap - A24 gas-powered rat and stoat trap

What does SPCA think about 'pests' in New Zealand?

Although SPCA does not regard the lives of one species over another, we do recognize that there is a concern regarding the impact of so-called ‘pest’ animals. Sometimes it is necessary to capture certain animals or manage populations of species for various reasons, including biodiversity, conservation, and sustainability.

In these instances, methods that are proven to be humane and effective should be used. The welfare of all animals should be viewed equally, and people should recognise that they deserve protection from suffering pain or distress, regardless of the species or where they came from. Whether an animal is native or introduced, any measures taken to manage their impact or numbers must recognize that these animals are sentient and have the capacity to experience pain, suffering, or distress, regardless of whether they are viewed or classed as a ‘pest.’

What does humane pest control mean?

A humane method is one that does not cause pain or suffering to any animals (regardless of whether they are target or non-target animals), and the humaneness of a method will be influenced to some extent by the skill and competency of the person in control.

A killing method can only be classified as humane where no pain is caused and an immediate state of unconsciousness is achieved, followed by a rapid death. SPCA encourages everyone concerned to do all that they can to ensure that there is minimum pain or distress to individual animals.

What has SPCA done to ban the use of 1080?

SPCA is deeply concerned over the use of 1080 and other poisons and is working hard to achieve positive change. As a charity, SPCA has limited resources, but the use of 1080 and other poisons is a priority for us as an organisation. SPCA is working wherever we can to change the law, publicly speaking out against the use of 1080 wherever possible. We have also made numerous submissions to government regarding the use of poisons, as part of the review of animal welfare regulations, the proposed 2017 and 2018 TB Free Plans, and will continue to do so at every opportunity.

Why can't SPCA Inspectors stop 1080?

SPCA’s Inspectorate is bound by New Zealand’s current laws specified in the Animal Welfare Act 1999, which unfortunately allow for the use of 1080 under a permit system and within permitted drop-zones. Therefore, if a poison is used to kill an animal and meets requirements, there is currently no legal course of action SPCA Inspectors can take. This is because no offences have technically been committed, even though the poison has likely caused suffering, pain and distress to the animal.

The green baits contain the 1080 toxin
The green baits contain the 1080 toxin

I just saw a really upsetting video of an animal dying from 1080 poisoning. Can SPCA please investigate?

Many videos have surfaced of animals suffering from suspected 1080 poisoning, which is very disturbing. If a poison was used outside of the conditions specified by the law, then there may be something SPCA could investigate.

However, photos and videos are not sufficient evidence alone to bring about a prosecution. An investigation would require solid proof of the animal being affected by deliberate 1080 use outside of the permitted drop zone or buffer zone, including evidence such as blood or post mortem results from the affected animal(s), photo or video evidence, and GPS location of the occurrence to prove that the 1080 was consumed by the animal outside of the permitted drop zone

What can I do to ban the use of 1080?

There are many things you as a member of the public can do to help end the use of 1080, including:

1.You can sign or create a petition to the government:Once a petition is closed a member of parliament must be asked to present the petition to parliament. This may be your local MP but does not have to be. Once presented in the House of Representatives, the petition will be considered by a select committee. At this point it may become open for submissions, allowing individuals to give their feedback in more detail.

2.You can sign up to MPI and NZ Government to receive alerts when select committees are accepting submissions: The more people who voice their opposition to 1080 use via submissions when opportunities arise, the more likely that the government will be to reassess the approach. You can sign up to receive alerts by following the link: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/news-and-resources/subscribe-to-mpi/

3.You can make your voice heard by meeting with or writing letters to members of parliament: It is particularly powerful to meet with government representatives in person, or at least to talk to them on the phone.

Hopefully, if enough people and organisations make their voices heard in opposition to the use of inhumane ‘pest’ control methods such as the use of poisons, the law will be changed and will no longer allow the legally sanctioned inhumane treatment of ‘pests’.

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