Image of the February 2014 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
February 2014 Issue
Home / Articles / Editorial

1080 the only option

Later this year, around spring, a terrible apocalypse is set to visit the native birds of New Zealand. Birds in their tens of thousands will be killed. Some species will be totally wiped out from regions where they have managed, against the odds, to gain a toe-hold.

The reason for this carnage? A bounty of seeds this summer, known as a mast season, will allow rats, stoats and possums to gorge themselves and multiply in time for spring. It is no exaggeration to say the devastation they will bring will be total; we have a precedent: in 2002, a plague of rats ate every last mohua/yellowhead at Mt Stokes in the Marlborough Sounds.

Unless something is done – such as a massively stepped up programme of 1080 poison drops – it could take years for our native bird and reptile species to recover from the impending ghastly feast.

That’s why in this February issue, we’ve decided to take a flamethrower to the 1080 debate in order to burn it out once and for all. We’ve done that by highlighting some of the most commonly held beliefs around 1080 and taken these to independent experts for their verdict. These experts are leading scientists and researchers who have no bias or barrow to push. They know 1080 better than practically anyone else and their views are credible because they are based on well-researched facts – a word many 1080 opponents seem totally unfamiliar with.

But surely it is only armed with the cold hard facts that decisions on the mass use of a poison should be based. We are quite literally talking the life and death of many of New Zealand’s unique native species. We cannot allow the wishy-washy sentiments of opponents, such as the harm to game animals and dogs, or the killing of a few individual birds, to stand in the way.

After reading ‘1080: the truth’, I am more satisfied than ever that the poison is being used correctly and is not just the best option, but the only option we have to save our remaining native birds from extinction. Left unchecked, the millions of pests in the backcountry would devour every native bird, reptile and insect until our forests became a sterile wasteland as quiet as a morgue.

Of course, it’s unlikely even the reasoned voice of independent experts will appease 1080 opponents. Like those who disbelieve the science around climate change, they pick and choose their ‘facts’ – seeking out voices that reinforce their world view while ignoring the vast scientific consensus because it doesn’t quite gel.

My message to those people is simple: it’s time to move on folks. If you oppose 1080, take the energy and resources you put into protesting its use and direct it towards finding a viable alternative.