A Department of Conservation aerial drop of 1080 to eradicate rats and stoats, at the head of Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown has drawn strong criticism from hunters and conservationists. Hunters are concerned that the drop area covers the whitetail deer herd habitat near Glenorchy and the Caple Valley fallow deer herd in the Caples Valley on Wakatipu’s western shores.
New Zealand Deerstalkers Associatin CEO Gwyn Thurlow said a 1080 operation has the potential to remove the valued herd of whitetail deer and decimate the fallow deer.
“Both herds of deer are very highly valued by our nation’s hunters and food gathers and have a historical, cultural and economic value,” he said.
In the past, NZDA co-funded research raising concerns for the whitetail deer herd’s longevity.
“Due to whitetail’s size and limited distribution – compared to other deer species – they are particularly susceptible to 1080 drops. The impact of this 1080 drop can be devastating to the herd”.
NZDA has sought meetings to advocate on hunters’ behalf with the Game Animal Council, DOC and the Minister of Conservation.
Whitetail deer doe
Laurie Collins, spokesman for the Sporting Hunters’ Outdoor Trust supported NZDA’s deep concern. Ironically in the late 1950s, as a young NZ Forest Service trainee, he was involved in the very first trials of 1080 poison which was tested on the fallow deer in the Caples Valley, coincidentally now under threat in 2023.
“The Forest Service learned nothing from the destruction of deer, native birds and insects back then, now DOC still hasn’t learned,” he said.
The 2023 drop of 1080 will be in the habitat of many native birds among them the currently endangered kea.
“No wonder kea once abundant in the South Island’s high country, are now endangered since DOC keep applying regular drops of 1080,” he said.
The area currently due to have 1080, has had “significant” drops in 2014, 2016 and 2019.
Conservationist and hunting author Tony Orman said the successive drops, two to three years apart were significant in the light of scientific studies.
“Surely DOC must be aware of research around rats and 1080 drops?” he asked.
A Landcare Research study (2007, Wendy Ruscoe) examined the impact in years following a 1080 aerial operation.
“About 10-20% rats will survive a 1080 drop. Those survivors, with less food competition, have an abundance of food thus rats breed prolifically. The study found within 18 months, rat numbers rat numbers ballooned to two to three times greater than before poisoning. After three or so years, rat numbers were four times pre-poison levels,” explained Tony Orman.
The last drop was three years ago, so obviously rat numbers will be high in line with that 2007 study he said.
“But the disruption of the food chain doesn’t end there. Stoats whose main prey is rats, suddenly have abundant food in the rodents and likewise balloon in numbers. That 2019 drop stimulated rat and stoat upsurges as shown by Wendy Ruscoe’s research”.
Rats are super-efficient breeders. At six weeks of age, a female rat can become pregnant. Rats (unlike possums) have litters of eight or ten and perhaps four or five litters a year. In a year a female rat is capable of producing 50 rats.
“All DOC’s 1080 poison drops have done is to disrupt Nature’s predator-prey balances and food chain equilibrium and cause rat and stoat plagues.
The rat upsurge was totally predictable; it’s there in research,” said Tony Orman.
1080 is often termed an “ecosystem poison” as it was first developed as an insecticide in the 1920s but subsequently was found to indiscriminately kill any living creature which ingested the toxin.
S.I.Bush Robin – insectivorous birds victims of 1080.
SHOT’s Laurie Collins is annoyed at the cavalier attitude of government via the Department of Conservation.
“New Zealand is the only country treating its wildlife with contempt and utter disrespect,” he said.
While some 80% of rats would be killed by a 1080 drop, stoats were not directly killed but could be by eating a poisoned rat dying slowly of 1080 poisoning or even the carcass as 1080 had “secondary kill” characteristics where a dead animal remains toxic.
Laurie Collins said 1080 was an exceptionally inhumane poison as it usually took 48 hours or more to slowly kill. Victims suffered convulsions, spasms and severe agony.
“Any creature be it rats, native birds, deer undergoes shocking cruelty,” he said.
Laurie Collins – 1080 shocking cruelty
Any 1080 is too much. Sooner the dummies at DOC realise they are to blame for the near extinction of many species the better
It is absurd. DOC “scientists” must be aware of research and studies like Wendy Ruscoe’s one on the after-effects of 1080 drops?Rats are phenomenal breeders. Female rats are in heat every 4 – 5 days and can be in heat again within 48 hours of giving birth. The gestation period is between 21 and 23 days. One google information said he usual litter size is 8 to 18 pups! Rats are exceptionally super breeders.
I have noted a severe decline in bird life following 1080 drops. Predators like bush falcons and moreporks virtually disappear. Bush robins are wiped out, tomtits suffer similarly and so on.
The point is if Mr Joe Citizen killed one native bird he would be thrown into court. But DOC can knowingly kill hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds and get away with it.
Some crazy groups like Forest and Bird and the Green Party will applaud DOC’s 1080 drops.
Having lived on the West Coast several times I listened to the for and against 1080 arguments many times and can only say I’ve never heard such ill-informed twaddle as that from the pro-1080 lobby whereas those against 1080 consistently presented a case which refuted the dogma-driven arguments every time.
How stupid can politicians and bureaucrats be?
Covid has shown how readily the government will lie to the public and spread mis-information about “following the science” and the gullible public will lap it up without question. The covid lies are beginning to unravel now though and it is high time the same thing happened with regard to 1080 poison so that the harm is does to our ecosystem can be understood. 1080 is banned in virtually every other country, it is time to outlaw its use here too.
There must be some other agenda to carry out this absurd 1080 drop yet again. You cannot tell me that the powers that be do not understand what they are doing. Is it to stop the gathering of meat by hunters in times of short supply or is it just an ego thing or power game they are playing? Surely we have some people who can see what has happened in the past and the mistakes being made. To make the same mistake over and over again is beyond anyone’s belief. Just as well they are not controlling a war we would all be dead. Please for the birds and suffering of just one animal’s sake stop the insane dropping of this poison
The DoC don’t care how many native birds or other native species they kill, they along with Forest & Bird are hell bent on getting rid of all deer species.
Experiments were carried out on Stewart Is in the sixties on the use o 1080 to get rid of deer “ it was found to be very successful”
The reason that our ecosystems are being polluted with 1080 and many other toxic substances is the influential people in the hierarchies of the National, Labour and Green political parties.
We do not see the members of these political cabals who meet secretly to decide which ambitious politicians will be selected and promoted to REPRESENT THEM in our government.
We see the politicians and bureaucrats (too much) but not the powerful minority of people that are pulling their strings.
If you oppose 1080 and the other toxic pollutants that are allowed to poison our environment and perhaps us as well you should oppose the people that enable and probably benefit from this insane practice.
Blue , red and green might be people’s favourite colours but that is no reason for hiring their puppets to govern the rest of us.
Let’s stop this foolish habit of voting for the same colours and hire some new people that have not become corrupted by their political authority and power over us.
There are plenty of suitable people in the smaller parties who would appreciate our support and do a better job for the ordinary people.
Give them a chance. We have nothing to lose and a lot to gain from rebelling against the tyranny of the red, green and blue cabals.
Red, green and blue
You don’t know what to do
We’ve had enough of you
We will hire someone new.
If a 1080 operation has the potential to reduce deer numbers- is this not a good thing? Do you want to continue playing hunting games because you like it, or do you wish to retain some of your declining native wildlife- that is the choice! Can’t have your cake and eat it, mate! Deer may be valued by hunters, but wildlife is valued by most New Zealanders and that is what you need to remember. Our land, bush and wildlife is NOT here for you to play with. It was here long before people came and though it is being decimated at alarming rates, let’s hope some of it may remain for future generations….
Hazel, the point is 1080 is a broad spectrum poison. It kills anything and everything that comes in contact with it. It is an ecosystem poison.
The DOC 1080 drop is for rats, but research shows 15% of rats that survive, so prolific at breeding, breed furiously after a 1080 drop with extra food and within18 months have recovered to pre-poison numbers and continue to increase to reach 4 times pre-poison numbers within 4 years.
So DOC has created a rat plague and four years later DOC turns to 1080 again. Same result four years later – a rat plague. It’s there in research (Wendy Ruscoe 2007). Go find it and read.
You wrongly blame deer for declining wildlife. Deer are not predators but herbivore browsers. 108o and any other broad spectrum poison (brodifacoum) will kill birds such as bush robins, keas etc pecking at baits. 1080 kills insects. Insects get killed and die slowly. A morepork will seize a struggling dying toxic weta for example. It’s possible that struggling insects are consumed by insectivorous birds e.g. robins, fantails, tomtits and will die. In any case 1080 (originally developed as an insecticide) will kill insects and diminish the food supply for insectivorous birds – consequently reduced insectivorous bird numbers. Keas will of course peck at anything intriguing from windscreen wipers to boot eyelets to 1080 baits.
If your worried about deer browsing grass and foliage of palatable shrubs consider that several million moa (number according to eminent ecologist the late Dr Graeme Caughley) browsed NZ’s vegetation for 60 million years or so. Landcare Research estimated wild deer numbers at 2000 to be a quarter of a million.
NZ’s vegetation is well adapted to browsing.
In fact tree/shrub species have developed defence mechanisms against browsing such as divaricating growth and even toxic substances. The lancewoods curious juvenile growth habit is recognised as an evolved defence against browsing.