1080

1080 is a pesticide used to control introduced predators like rats, possums and other pests. These predators destroy our native birds and wildlife and can spread disease.

Using 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) is a successful and cost-effective method for controlling predators in large areas of forest or inaccessible land. It is also one of the most controlled substances in New Zealand.

Find out about 1080 in New Zealand, our laws and regulations to keep us and our environment safe, and advice to keep you, your family and pets safe.

About 1080

1080 is the common name for products containing the active ingredient, sodium fluoroacetate. This chemical is a naturally occurring poison found in plants that grow in Australia, Brazil and Africa. Like all poisons, it is harmful if not used correctly and there are laws and strict rules for using 1080 in New Zealand.

Sodium fluoroacetate is poisonous to all mammals, including humans. It does not stay in the environment permanently. It is added to bait pellets, flavoured gel, gel blocks or pastes. It can be placed in bait stations, or pellets can be distributed over large areas of land using mechanical spreaders and from aircraft.

In 1080 bait pellets, the active ingredient (pure sodium fluoroacetate) comprises only 0.04 to 0.2% of the total weight of the bait.

1080 use in New Zealand

1080 was first used in New Zealand in 1964 to control bovine tuberculosis (TB). Nowadays, New Zealand uses around 30 times less 1080 per hectare of land compared to 50 years ago.

1080 and conservation

1080 is used to control invasive pests, like rats, stoats and possums, and help reduce the impact they have on our natural environment. Rats and stoats prey on native birds and wildlife; possums destroy trees, they eat the eggs and chicks of our birds and compete with native animals for food.

Read out more about 1080 and conservation from the Department of Conservation 

Read about 1080 from Forest and Bird 

1080 and farming

Possums also carry TB and can infect cows and deer. 1080 helps to protect New Zealand's dairy, beef, and deer industries. If left uncontrolled, TB infection in our cattle and deer herds could seriously affect New Zealand’s pastoral production, access to export markets and our 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

Using 1080 is controlled

1080 is controlled under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO Act) and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSW Act), to protect the environment and the health and safety of the New Zealand public. When the current rules and regulations are complied with, the use of 1080 does not compromise public safety or the environment.

Rules were tightened in 2007

In 2007, our predecessor ERMA (Environmental Risk Management Authority), reassessed the use of 1080 in New Zealand. The controls around 1080 were tightened and ERMA recommended standard operating procedures for aerial drops of 1080 be developed, including communication guidelines.

Read the 2007 reassessment and approval to use 1080

Read the Communications Guideline for Aerial 1080 Operations

You must get permission to use 1080

We have the legal authority to grant permission to use 1080 and other animal poisons (called vertebrate toxic agents) under section 95A of the HSNO Act. For 1080, we have delegated this power to the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Ministry of Health.

When 1080 is used on land administered or managed by DOC the power to grant permissions is delegated to DOC.

When 1080 is used in an area where there is drinking water or where there may be a risk to public health, the power to grant permissions is delegated to medical officers of health and health protection officers, who are employed by district health boards.

They can set extra terms and conditions depending on where and how 1080 is being used and may also consult with the public before deciding whether to give permission to use 1080.

The Ministry of Health and DOC can audit the permissions they issue to make sure operators have followed the conditions of their permissions. We also carry out audits to monitor how these organisations are using their delegated powers.

You must be licensed to use 1080 and follow the rules

Anyone handling 1080 must have a controlled substance licence, and hold a certified handler certificate. They must demonstrate they have followed the rules for 1080 use. This is a requirement under the HSW Act.

WorkSafe sets rules for 1080 under the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017. The rules include:

  • the need to keep it secure and storage rules
  • ensuring equipment used to handle 1080 is fit for purpose
  • limiting worker exposure to 1080
  • storing it safely away from other substances and having emergency procedures in place
  • the requirement to keep records.

The rules under the HSNO Act include:

  • how much 1080 can be used at a time
  • how it can be applied during aerial operations
  • requirements to provide information and safety data sheets 
  • requirements for packaging, labelling and disposal of 1080. 

This is not an exhaustive list.

Monitoring and reporting 1080 use

All our decisions, including the decision to allow the use of 1080, are expected to be transparent and open to public scrutiny and discussion.

Reports on aerial 1080 operations

Operators who want to use 1080 must follow the controls set out under the HSNO Act and Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. These include a requirement for all operators carrying out aerial 1080 pest control operations to provide reports for all activity, with details of every operation. The report must include any incidents, such as bait that was lost, spilled or misapplied during an operation.

Read the 1080 aerial operators’ reports.

Since 2008 we have been publishing annual reports summarising aerial 1080 operations. Read the annual reports.

Workplace reports

Anyone who has 1080 in their workplace must provide WorkSafe with an annual report. It must include the name of the supplier who supplied the 1080, what is was used for and whether it was moved or disposed of.

Read more about WorkSafe’s 1080 annual reporting.

Mapara 1080 enquiry report

An aerial 1080 operation that was linked to the deaths of eight cattle in the King Country substantially complied with the relevant controls and procedures, an enquiry has found.

Read more about the Mapara 1080 enquiry report.

There is ongoing research into 1080 and finding alternatives

The 2007 reassessment of 1080 advocated for continued research on 1080 including formulations, timing and delivery of aerial drops, as well as alternative methods of pest control.

There is consensus that research programmes should continue to explore alternative ways to achieve sustainable pest eradication, including sophisticated trapping technology and the consideration to use genetic technologies.

We continue to support all research efforts to find additional methods of pest control. A toolkit of approaches is likely to be needed for effective pest management across a variety of landscapes in New Zealand, epecially if the government target of a pest-free Aotearoa by 2050 is to be realised.

Keeping safe around 1080

When you are out in the bush or countryside, there is a chance that you may come across 1080.

  • Try and avoid areas where 1080 is being used.
  • Look for the signs. Signs are put up in areas warning people that 1080 is being used. When the risk to people and animals is gone, the warning signs are removed and you can freely re-enter the area.
  • Don’t touch anything you think might be a poison bait; often poison baits are small, about finger sized and dyed blue or green.
  • Keep a close watch on small children and warn older children of the risks.
  • Keep dogs on a leash. Don’t let them roam, especially in the bush; and don’t let them eat bait or carcasses. Dogs are extremely sensitive to 1080 (about 10 times more sensitive than possums).