WWF-New Zealand position on the use of 1080 for pest control in New Zealand

WWF-New Zealand is supportive of the use of 1080 to control invasive pest species in New Zealand.

WWF-New Zealand is supportive of the New Zealand Government’s ambitious vision of eradicating the most damaging introduced predators (rats, stoats and possums) by 2050. 

In its work to facilitate innovation and community conservation, WWF-New Zealand has helped catalyse and promote new ways of controlling invasive pests (such as the use of artificial intelligence to identify pests) and has supported community groups to control pest populations in their local areas. 

In New Zealand, invasive pest species are a serious threat to the sensitive and unique environment where the native wildlife and vegetation has evolved in the absence of mammalian omnivores.  

New Zealand has the highest rate of endangered species on Earth, with more than 4,000 threatened species. New Zealand has 168 native bird species, 93 of which are found nowhere else. A third of all native birds in New Zealand are in serious trouble.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr. Jan Wright, found in her 2011 evaluation of the use of 1080 that although there are other methods that are effective in particular situations, the only practical and cost-effective option that is available for controlling possums, rats and stoats in large and inaccessible areas is an aerially delivered poison. There is no alternative poison available now or in the near future that could be used aerially and would be preferable to 1080. Therefore, WWF-New Zealand is supportive of the present use of 1080 to control invasive pest species in New Zealand.

Controlling invasive pests requires a nationwide effort, from central government through to communities and individuals. Pest control efforts are coordinated by the Department of Conservation, Regional Councils and OSPRI.



What is 1080?
1080 is the common name for a biodegradable poison called sodium fluoroacetate. 1080 is biodegradable and quickly breaks down into non-toxic by-products. 

Does 1080 remain in the environment?
Trials in streams showed 90 percent of 1080 was leached from baits within 24 hours. Monitoring of public water supplies has never shown contamination by 1080.

In soil, 1080 can break down in one to two weeks in warm moist conditions, although it can sometimes take several months in extremely dry and cold conditions. Most operations are done in wet winter or spring conditions which encourages the rapid breakdown of the baits.

Does 1080 have any effect on human health?
There have been no recorded cases of 1080 operations causing harm to human health, although one hunter reportedly died at home in the 1960s from eating jam containing 1080. Long-term, low-level exposure is not harmful – a cup of black tea contains 1080’s active ingredient (fluoroacetate) at about 1.5 times the Ministry of Health’s legal limit for 1080 in drinking water.

Is 1080 used in other countries?
1080 has been used on a small scale in a number of countries including Australia, the United States, the Galapagos Islands, Israel, and Japan. It is used sparingly in these countries because of the need to protect their native mammals. Most 1080 is used in New Zealand because our only two native land mammals are bats. There is no evidence they are adversely affected by 1080 use and their numbers increase where predators are controlled.