1080

Sodium Fluoroacetate or 1080 is an important weapon in the current armoury of measures to combat the impact of animal pests – mainly possums, rats and stoats – on our environment and economy.

1080 is a man-made reproduction of a naturally occurring toxin. Some plants contain the toxin naturally, particularly in Western Australia, South America, and South Africa. In New Zealand, it was first used for pest control in 1964. 1080 is poisonous to all mammals, including humans. 

Safety controls around 1080

1080 is a closely monitored and controlled hazardous substance in New Zealand under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO), and as a toxic poison, New Zealand is cautious with how it is stored and used.

New Zealand is using around 30 times less 1080 per hectare, compared to what the country used fifty years ago. We know that 1080 being dropped from the air makes some people uncomfortable. While a number of research projects are looking at 1080 alternatives, the current 1080 rules will keep people and the environment safe.

1080 reassessment

The EPA’s predecessor authority, ERMA, undertook a transparent public review in 2007 and determined that while the benefits of using 1080 outweighed the adverse effects, the controls around its use should be tightened.

The reassessment recommended that management practices around aerial drops of 1080 be standardised around best practice. As part of this, communication guidelines were developed.

Reassessment of sodium fluoroacetate (1080) and substances containing 1080

Communications guideline for aerial 1080 operations (pdf 338KB)

In another major report to Parliament in 2016, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, noted that the aerial application of 1080 “remains essential for the foreseeable future.”

PCE report evaluating the use of 1080 (pdf 4.2MB)

1080 reporting

We require all aerial operators to send us post-operational reports for all of their activity, with details of every aerial 1080 operation and each year we publish a report using this information.

1080 aerial operators' reports

Annual reports on the aerial use of 1080

Personal safety around 1080

It’s important to remember to stay safe when 1080 is in use:

  • Signs are put up in areas warning people that 1080 is in use in the area and people should avoid going into a bush where a 1080 drop is underway.
  • Dogs are particularly susceptible to 1080 and should not be taken into areas where 1080 has been dropped.
  • While 1080 biodegrades in the environment, after every aerial drop of 1080, extensive monitoring of the site occurs by the operator who clear any predator carcasses and 1080 pellets.
  • When the risk to people and animals is gone, the warning signs are removed from the area and people can freely re-enter the area.

The use of 1080 in New Zealand

1080 and farming

1080 also helps to protects New Zealand's multi-billion dollar dairy, beef, and deer industries. Possums carry TB and they in turn infect cows and deer. If left uncontrolled, TB infection in our cattle and deer herds could seriously affect New Zealand’s pastoral production, export market access, and economy.

OSPRI's TBfree programme manages the implementation of the National Pest Management Plan for Bovine TB, with the aim of eradicating the disease from New Zealand.

Find out more about the TBfree programme - OSPRI website

1080 in conservation

1080 is also a critical tool for the pest control needed to protect New Zealand's native plants and wildlife. 

1080 is currently needed by land managers to protect large areas of forest and native wildlife from possums, rats, stoats, and the diseases they spread.

New Zealand’s biodiversity reflects the essence of New Zealand and is a key contributor to our national economy. 1080 plays an important role in helping protect this biodiversity by helping reduce the impact of introduced mammals on our natural environment.

Many conservation advocacy groups support the use of 1080, including Forest & Bird. 1080 breaks down quickly in the environment.

Information about the use of 1080 in New Zealand – Forest and Bird website

1080 facts – Department of Conservation website

Technical information about the approval of 1080

You can search our databases for other documents, records, and technical information relating to 1080.

Hazardous Substances with controls database