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1080 Operations

1080 Operations

Updated 23 February 2021 12:27pm

Akatarawa Forest, February and March 2021

We are undertaking an aerial possum control operation in the Akatarawa Forest, using the biodegradable pesticide, sodium fluoroacetate (1080). Weather dependent, non-toxic pre-feed baiting is now expected early March 2021, with toxic baiting expected approximately 7-10 days following pre-feed.

Operational area

The proposed operational area shown on the map below covers approximately 14,400 hectares of the Akatarawa Forest, which is owned and managed by Greater Wellington. Previous aerial 1080 possum control operations have been carried out in this area in 2007 and 2013.

View the full map of the operational area

Why is this operation happening?

The Akatarawa Forest is one of the best examples of ‘old growth forest’ in the Wellington region, providing habitats that support many regionally and nationally uncommon native species. The forest also contains water sources that may be used for water supply in the future, and areas of plantation forest.

We need to reduce predator numbers to protect the biodiversity and water quality in the Akatarawa Forest. A recent monitoring survey found possums were present throughout the forest, in numbers which exceed target levels. Akatarawa forest is not only the habitat of vulnerable native reptiles, invertebrates and birds, but is home to an extraordinary and unique northern rātā which is 39m tall, and thought to be over 1,100 years old.

South Makara, April and May 2021

We propose to undertake an aerial possum control operation on Terawhiti Station and Kinnoull Station, using the biodegradable pesticide, sodium fluoroacetate (1080). This would occur during suitable weather conditions from mid-April 2021.

Operational area

The proposed operational area shown on the map covers approximately 3,300 hectares of regenerating and plantation forest. The area is extremely difficult to access due to the nature of the terrain and density of habitat.

The properties involved are owned and managed locally and there is no public land involved within this operational area.

Why is this operation happening?

This work is being done as part of the Regional Possum Predator Control Programme (RPPCP), which is a Greater Wellington Regional Council pest management initiative that aims to control possums and other predators, which are a serious threat to our native biodiversity and economy.

Greater Wellington has implemented the RPPCP to preserve the work completed by OSPRI (TB free), by maintaining low possum populations in areas declared ‘Bovine TB free’. The RPPCP continues to expand within the Wellington Region, as new areas gain this status.

Possum control has the additional benefit of controlling rats and stoats. Rats will die when they consume possum baits, while stoats will be killed when they consume the carcasses of poisoned rats and possums. A reduction in numbers of these introduced predators will further protect native plants and birds.

Safety information

The proposed operation presents no risk to human or pet health as long as these precautions are followed:

  • If entering the operational area, follow the advice on warning signs at all main access points.
  • Do not handle any bait or allow children to wander unsupervised in the area.
  • Do not bring dogs into the operational area. Dogs are particularly susceptible to 1080. They must not be allowed access to bait or poisoned carcasses, which remain toxic to dogs until they have fully decomposed.
  • Possums may consume 1080 baits and die outside of the operational boundary, treat the area outside the operation boundary with care as well.
  •  The Ministry for Primary Industries recommends avoid taking deer for consumption within a two kilometre radius of the operational area and avoid taking pigs for a five km radius. They also advise that hunting should cease in an area for four months following a 1080 drop, however this can be reduced to two months if 100mm of rain has fallen.
  • Greater Wellington will be monitoring the breakdown of toxic baits and possum carcases, when these have decomposed the poison warning signs will be officially removed.
  • The public will be able to resume normal activities in the area once we have removed the poison signs. We’ll also put a notice up on our website when this occurs.

How is the operation done?

The proposed operation will be completed in two stages:

  • First, non-toxic tan-coloured “pre-feed” cereal pellets would be sown by helicopter across the forest to give possums a taste for cereal pellets and encourage them to consume the toxic pellets sown later on, making the operation more effective
  • Second, seven to ten days after the non-toxic pellets are sown, helicopters will sow cereal pellets containing the 1080, which is biodegradable

1080 pellets are 20mm in diameter, coloured green and are cinnamon lured to make them unattractive to birds. Each pellet contains 0.15% of 1080 and will be applied at a rate of 2kg per hectare. That’s less than one small box of laundry powder per rugby-field-sized area. Similar to laundry powder, 1080 breaks down when mixed with water into a harmless substance

For further information please read the full fact sheet on the proposed Akatarawa operation.

1080 as a method

The biggest threat to native wildlife in the Wellington Region is introduced predators such as rats, possums and stoats. We face a choice, let predators reach out of control numbers, or manage them to protect our native species, primary production sector and social wellbeing. Maintaining healthy ecosystems also helps to improve freshwater quality and stable water supply.

When managing predators we use the most efficient method suitable for the area where problems exist. This means we are using a variety of methods aimed to provide effective and efficient control, while minimising impacts on the environment and non-target organisms. We are also very active in supporting research and development of new methods.

The biodegradable pesticide sodium fluoroacetate (or 1080) is one of the many methods we use to manage the array of predators within the Wellington Region. 1080 has been proven over many years to reduce predator numbers safely, with no adverse impact on the environment or human health. We use aerial 1080 for controlling predators in areas which are rugged and/or hard to reach.

Predator control method selection

Our team of experienced Biosecurity Officers are in tune with the latest developments in predator management research.

We rely on the advice from our environmental scientists, who carry out ongoing monitoring to assess areas around the Wellington region which are home to threatened flora, fauna and marine life.

This monitoring helps us to design operations that control predators and improve native biodiversity in the safest and most cost effective way, and adhere to the national best industry practice and all relevant legislation.

What we know about 1080

  • It is highly soluble and does not accumulate or leave permanent residues in soil, water or animals
  • It is found in many plants around the world including New Zealand’s native puha
  • Bird nesting success rate dramatically improves after the use of 1080
  • Many native trees and plant species show significantly better growth and survival after an aerial 1080 operation
  • It does not kill or harm fish
  • Local health authorities apply strict conditions to aerial operations so that drinking water supplies are not contaminated and that the public is informed when and where operations are to be undertaken
  • Its safety has been confirmed through testing water samples following 1080 aerial operations. Several thousand samples have been tested over many years

More information on 1080

We encourage anyone interested in becoming more informed on the subject to explore for yourself. You may wish to view the 1080 website