Protests have been happening around the country this week on the topic of the government's use of 1080 poison.

In my time I've heard a few arguments against use of the poison, and there doesn't seem to be any new claims this time round. The kind of arguments I've seen in the media are that it:

  • is poisonous not just to mammals, but to other wildlife
  • is so poisonous that other countries don't use it
  • gets into the water supply
  • doesn't break down over time
  • bioaccumulates in animals and works its way up the food chain

The idea that the government hasn't considered these points seems silly. It also doesn't take long to find answers to these points:

  • Yes, 1080 can kill some native wildlife, including birds. But this happens rarely, and the long term benefit to these species by eradication of introduced predator species far outweighs the harm being caused.
  • Generally other countries don't use 1080 because they have native mammals and 1080 is very effective at poisoning mammals. New Zealand just has two extant native bat species, so use of 1080 makes sense.
  • No, it doesn't get into the water supply in concentrations that are dangerous. See the video below.
  • Scientists have put a lot of effort into understanding just how 1080 is diluted and broken down in the environment, so just saying that it doesn't ignores a lot of evidence to the contrary
  • No, 1080 is broken down when ingested by animals, plants and bacteria in the soil, so bioaccumulation does not happen.