Is 1080 Harmful to Trout and Stream Ecology?

by Tony Orman
A Federated Farmers and Forest and Bird Fact Sheet on 1080 poison said  “Trials in four West Coast streams using 10 times the number of 1080 baits that would be expected to enter streams during aerial treatment showed no detectable effect on aquatic life in streams.
In separate studies in the United States and New Zealand, 100% of fish fed 1080 baits survived and showed no ill effects.”
The Fact Sheet continued “A study in which meat from a possum that had died from 1080 poison was fed to eels found that all of the eels survived and none became ill.  A NIWA study found that koura (native freshwater crayfish) that ate 1080 baits did not die and showed no ill effects.”
However, the strangeness of the bedfellow relationship of Forest And Bird and Federated Farmers suggests further investigation.
So I turned to google and found a u-tube by Clyde and Steve Graf <>.
The tube examined the science focusing on a NIWA study contracted by OSPRI (originally the Animal Health Board) the biggest user of aerial 1080 poison but significantly approved by the Department of Conservation.
Paid Science
It should be noted that “contracted science” is paid, commissioned science. It arguably lacks independence since a favourable report for the client is far more likely to result in future contracts. A case in point was eminent entomologist the late Mike Meads who after a mid-1990s study after an aerial 1080 in a drop at Whitecliffs, Taranaki, expressed deep concern about the long-term ecological effects that destroyed invertebrate organisms vital to the functioning of the forest ecosystem.
Mike Meads’ study was exhaustively peer-reviewed by people far less qualified and in the end, was made redundant.
The NIWA study highlighted by the “Graf Boys” was interesting viewing. NIWA examined a small stream at Greymouth following a 1080 drop. There were odd inconsistencies. It said 1080 had not killed invertebrates or fish but 100 metres downstream there was a “decrease in macro-invertebrates”. The study then in contradictory style said there were “significant effects in the decline of invertebrates’ but then added they “were not ecologically significant” instead of investigating further.
Related is that the RMA review of 1080 in 2007, as biassed as it was in favour of 1080, admitted “there is significant uncertainty regarding the aquatic classification of 1080” due to the lack of data available. It cited “data gaps’ and quoted that mosquito larvae were killed in 0.025 mg 1080 per litre of water. Koura (crayfish) tested over eight days had 1080 in the flesh of tails.
The research in more detail showed discrepancies with the actual poison drops. In the study 6 gm baits were used but in most 1080 drops 12 gm baits are used.
Such basic flaw in methodology is unacceptable and in danger of suggesting the study was biassed.
Fish Decline
A friend who once owned a property near Greymouth bounded by public lands upon which DOC aerially top-dressed with 1080, told me of a stream that once abounded with native fish (inangas) and eels.
Some months after the poison drop, there was a strong, marked decline in the fish life.
Notice koura were tested eight days after the drop.
ERMA noted 1080 does not harmlessly pass through animal bodies ad effects such as creation of amino acid and changes to testicles and sperm can occur. It said “1080 can cause developmental effects in laboratory rodents – “testes showed severe damage (with) absence of sperm and damage to cells.”
The disruption to male fertility is known as “endocrine disruptor.”
Yet despite this Fish and Game were satisfied that 1080 was harmless to trout. Instead Fish and Game narrowly focused on the effects of anglers consuming trout which had consumed mice dying from 1080. In its support of 1080, Fish and Game NZ quoted a USA scientific paper . But on reading the USA paper, the abstract said “data on 1080 in aquatic ecosystems are incomplete” and “primary and secondary poisoning of non-target vertebrates” due to 1080.
Absence of Sperm
In 2010 a NZ Ecology paper referred to “exposures to sub-lethal doses have been shown to have harmful effects on the heart and testes in animal studies.”
So the question is do “sub-lethal” doses of 1080 result in “severe damage (with) absence of sperm and damage to cells” to male trout, thereby adversely affecting natural spawning?
Since Fish and Game virtually abandoned hatchery releases in the 1970s on the advice of the late scientist Robert McDowall and depended totally on natural spawning for almost 50 years, the reproductive ability of trout is of paramount importance to replenishment of stocks.
In 2005 Landcare Research did a study on  “Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) residues in longfin eels “ – scientists P O’B Lyver, J Ataria, K Trought and P Fisher.
“New Zealand Ministry of Health guidelines state that domestic food products must be equal to or less than the provisional maximum acceptable value (PMA V)  — we detected 1080 residues in eel tissue that were on average 12 times (twelve) higher than the PMAV, one day after eels consumed (1080) contaminated tissue”.
Was there any “endocrine disruptor” effect on eels?
Eels are regarded as a threatened species. The Department of Conservation is responsible for the conservation welfare of native fish such as eels. The conflict is obvious.
How reliable is the science? After all, Federated Farmers, Forest and Bird and Department of Conservation have quoted science. Remember the contradictions of the commissioned NIWA paper?
The muzzling and rejection of Mike Meads and the character of “paid, commissioned” science?
How good is the science which DoC uses to support its use of 1080?
Two USA scientists retired to New Zealand, Pat and Quinn Whiting- O’Keefe audited Department of Conservation scientific research and produced an 88-page monograph reviewing more than 100 scientific papers. Originally from Stanford Research Institute and University of California, San Francisco in the USA with a considerable knowledge in chemistry and an expertise in statistical inference in complex systems, Pat and Quinn Whiting-O’Keefe focused on the aerial poison drops of 1080 to kill possums and rats.
No Benefit
In their words:- “The results are startling and belie most of the department’s claims. First, there is no credible scientific evidence showing that any species of native bird benefits from the dropping of tonnes of 1080 into our forest ecosystems, as claimed by the department and Kevin Hackwell (Forest and Bird).
There is certainly no evidence of net ecosystem benefit.”
The pair continued “considerable evidence exists that DoC’s aerial 1080 operations are doing serious harm, as one would expect, given that 1080 is toxic to all animals. It kills large numbers of native species of birds, invertebrates and bats.”
Then in reference to “paid, commissioned science “ earlier referred to the Whiting-O’Keefe’s commented “perhaps most disturbing, is that what the department-sponsored research shows has been habitually misrepresented – entirely unjustifiable assertions regarding 1080’s benefits and lack of harm.”
And with reference to “endocrine disruptors” – “Moreover, most native species are completely unstudied. In addition considerable evidence shows there are chronic and sublethal effects to vertebrate endocrine and reproductive systems, possibly including those of humans.”
The point is there are scientists and scientists. Blame should not be attached solely to scientists, whose research perhaps lacks credibility. The “system”, if they want more contracted work is that they fall into line with the policy of the client, i.e. OSPRI and DoC.
Greek poet Sappho, who lived around 600 B.C., is attributed to have supposedly, said, “Never bite the hand that feeds you.”
Quinn and Pat Whiting-O’Keefe concluded about the Department of Conservation’s 1080 science that “there is no credible scientific evidence showing that any species of native bird benefits from the dropping of tonnes of 1080 (and that “there is certainly no evidence of net ecosystem benefit.”
The last word should go to Orillion – a subsidiary of Animal Control Products, the state owned enterprise (SOE) which stores and distributes 1080 poison.
Orillion’s Fact Sheet on 1080 states “harmful to aquatic organisms.”
That from the major aerial spreader of 1080 poison.
Footnote: Poisoning Paradise <>

From a trout’s stomach showing two cicada and some bottom fauna invertebrates.

1080 originally developed as an insecticide kills insects which are trout food. The end result – less trout food, less trout.

This entry was posted in Home. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Is 1080 Harmful to Trout and Stream Ecology?

  1. Lewis+Hore says:

    Why is it that if Federated Farmers and Forest and Bird believe 1080 is safe in water why does the manufactures warning label on 1080 containers say that it is ” highly toxic to all aquatic life”. Also why is it after monitoring three different 1080 drops in the same area over several years I found 10 dead eels, four after the first drop and three on each of two consecutive drops. I carried three eels out but couldn’t afford the $400 Landcare charge so gave them to the local Iwi to be autopsied, that never happened in fact one member just wanted to know the age of the eels and wasn’t interested in how they died. To me the whole 1080 issue is bullshit.

  2. Barry Day says:

    I feel for ya mate. I’m sitting somewhere else in the world looking at this from afar. Fact. 1080 kills everything.

    Your article here in essence is a lone man formulating facts on misrepresentation.

    The users of 1080 are in some whacko subversive club of num skulls. What is there primary motive. To kill a bloody possum.

    What the hell happened to Kiwi ingenuity?

    Ummmm durrr. To kill these possums, let’s bomb all the forests with a lethal insecticide that kills everything. Yep we’ll kill those waskilly possums for sure.

    What about all the native birds that eat insects? You know. Insecta bloody cide

    Ummmmm durrrrrr. Well, that’s collateral damage. When the possums are gone, the birds will rejuvenate.

    This whole premise is beyond a lunatic asylums entry qualifications.

    You’ve got your little miss goody 2 shoes over there being the worlds most “natural prime minister” whilst she’s got the dirtiest set of knickers on the planet with this 1080 routine under her belt.

    That’s it for the moment from me Tony. Ya need a Gatling gun on these clowns.
    Actually, look up CBD, Center for biodiversity. They are a bunch of old treehuggers that discovered that the law works wonders. There basic premise was to put animals before humans. They’ve got a bit off track with chasing donor money and going after the soft targets that fold easy. That being, government officials. This is a good cause that might center them up again.

  3. Alan+Rennie says:

    The 1080 did not breakdown to fluorocitrate it was transformed to fluorocitrate by the action of the 1080 in the body.

    If 1080 enters a body of water

    With microorganisms in it at a warmish temperature then 1080 is again converted to fluorocitrate this time by the once living microorganisms, as stated by research paper 1.

    Landcare Research states the 1080 breaks down to harmless fluorocitrate and there’s the half lie.

    The active poison of 1080 is fluorocitrate.Your not breaking down to the active poison,as Eason falsely stated.

    There is no breakdown of the intended poison fluorocitrate ,your just getting the poison directly now, via the microorganisms death in the water and the production of fluorocitrate,as described in research paper 1.

    The 1080 transformed to fluorocitrate by contacting micro organisms it did not breakdown to fluorocitrate .It stepped up to becoming the killer poison fluorocitrate in your water supply.

    On pg 36 of Research paper 1,it states.

    Our data indicate that microorganisms are also capable of converting 1080 in the environment to fluorocitrate and therefore the fluorocitrate in the aquaria (test solution) can only have been produced by microbial degradation of the 1080.

  4. Alan+Rennie says:

    Govt funded science is always screwed , because if the scientists dont give the answer that govt want, you are gone,
    This has taken 60 yrs for Govt to admit it ,Please dont buy into what you are told by Govt Depts
    And 1080 an A1 toxic poison in our water
    “….Finally confirmation from landcare after a lengthy OIA request, that their TLM005 step does NOT contain the sonification cell lysis step.

    This is why Nick found 1080 in the samples. He busted the cells open to look. DOC never does.

    Conclusive proof that DOC’s 1080 test is inadequate.

    cell lysis is all important. This means breaking open of cells, which is where 1080 and fluorocitrate are found in a well washed subject.

    Ozawa & Tsukioka (1987) define the GC method used to identify 1080
    Ozawa & Tsukioka (1989) defined the cell treatment method used to create the samples. They used ‘sonication’ – ultrasonic shear – to break open cells.

    Landcare, however used a _modified_ version of the Ozawa method, which uses centrifuging as a lysis stem. Centrifuging is considered the least effect cell lysis method, less effective than even sonication.

    Nick’s method found 1080 because it was able to look into cells..

  5. Ken Sims says:

    So how do overseas scientists see this ‘grand experiment’ by DOC?
    Such as people with a Masters in Freshwater Science and then a PhD in Environmental Science – who really do know a thing or two? You can find out here (starting about 18 minutes in). But I warn you – it ain’t pretty!

  6. golde says:

    “Is 1080 Harmful to Trout and Stream Ecology?”……this subject is like beating a dead horse to death……EVERYONE WHO HAS AN OUNCE OF SENSE KNOWS THE ANSWER….In most of our lifetimes, anyone reading this, will never see ” the good old days”……YES..1080 IS THE MOST EVIL WAY TO DESTROY EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH…..THE MOST CRUEL, EVIL POISON THAT WAS CREATED. NEW ZEALANDERS SHOULD REALLY WAKE UP. THE COUNTRY IS IN RUINS. ALL DONE BY THE GOVERNMENT. ANYONE THAT CAN’T SEE THIS IS IN TOTAL DENIAL. PERIOD.

  7. John Gornall. says:

    My knowledge of use of 1080 relies on what others have had to say – both for and against. I’m inclined to the view that if 1080 or any toxic substance kills one species, then logically it will kill others. Poison in this respect is not selective.
    It took many years for the authorities to admit that 245T, DDT and such were harmful to the environment.

  8. James Schultz says:

    Pseudoscience dies hard, especially when there are commercial interests at stake.
    Follow the money trail is the mantra. Science is polluted by the charlatans and weak.
    1080 is a prime example as the Whiting-O’Keefe’s said.

  9. Charles Henry says:

    Sums it up nicely

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 80 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here