Nearly 70% of DoC’s studies justifying aerial 1080 operations were conducted in-house

Nearly 70% of DoC’s studies justifying aerial 1080 operations were conducted by employees of either AHB [Animal Health Board] or DOC [Dept of Conservation] with only three being published internationally (Robinson, pp 34, 35). 

Reihana Robinson in her book titled ‘The Killing Nation, NZ’s State-Sponsored Addiction to Poison 1080’ cites the research of US biophysicist Dr Alexis Mari Pietak of Tufts University, Massachusetts.  

Dr Pietak ‘conducted a comprehensive literature search for “peer-reviewed scientific investigations into the effects of aerial poison operations on non target fauna” and compared “the costs and benefits to native species poison operations versus unchecked possum populations at their peak density”.’

Quoting from Robinson’s book (emphases mine):

“Her research indicated aerial poisoning has “twice as many costs to native species as benefits, and that aerial poison operations were twice as costly to native species as unmanaged possum populations at their peak density.” this potential for widespread poisoning of insectivorous, omnivorous and carnivorous endemic and endangered or threatened bird species she believes is “a serious issue worthy of international and immediate action,” Namely, to immediately halt aerial poison operations.

Dr Pietak notes the few bird species that have actually been the subject of “proper radio-transmitter, colour banding, and mark-recapture analysis before and after poison operations’ are the nectar, fruit and foliage eating birds such as hihi, kereru, kōkako and kaka and are indeed most likely to benefit from possum removal. Missing from thorough research are those birds identified as being high risk of primary or secondary poisoning. They number 24 indigenous bird species. She references work by Armstrong 2001 that “notes that data derived from bird or call counts cannot be analysed to separate changes in abundance from changes in detection, due to the fact that bird behaviour is affected by the presence of a human observer. Detection rates can vary depending on the weather, human observer, and unknown bird behavioural patterns.” She states the “science seems to have been selectively interpreted, ignored, and moreover left grossly incomplete in its scope, presumably in the name of non-environmental economical interests” “

Like a growing number of researchers Dr Pietak notes the potential for bias given the large number of studies funded by AHB [Animal Health Board] or DOC [Dept of Conservation]. Of the 28 studies retrieved she finds 19 of 28, (nearly 70%), were conducted by employees of either AHB or DOC with only three being published internationally”. (Robinson, pp 34, 35)*. 

* Pietak, Alexis Mari A Critical Look at Aerial-Dropped, Poison-Laced Food in New Zealand’s forest Ecosystems 2010 Creative Commons


NOTE: For further articles on 1080 use categories at left of the news page.

If you are new to the 1080 poisoning program, a must watch is Poisoning Paradise, the doco made by the GrafBoys (banned from screening on NZ TV, yet a 4x international award winner). Their website is Their doco is a very comprehensive overview with the independent science to illustrate the question marks that remain over the use of this poison. There are links also on our 1080 resources page to most of the groups, pages, sites etc that will provide you with further information to make your own informed decision on this matter.

11 thoughts on “Nearly 70% of DoC’s studies justifying aerial 1080 operations were conducted in-house”

  1. As a retired Hunter & photographer who has always lived in the bush, I can say that I have always known that DoC’s Scientific reports are false, People in the city know nothing about the Great outdoors & the Animals & people who live within the forest. I am 74 years old this year, I have never seen such a decline in birds as there is now.

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    1. Now that’s an interesting & valuable observation David. I bet you have a wealth of photos too. It’s also so sad to hear you confirm what many of us are suspecting given your comment is echoed by so many others.


  2. I Started as a Young Hunter in Urewera about 1962, I was selling Deer at the Ruatahuna Store & culling possums for around 10 years, Then I moved over to the Kaimanawa’s & did the same thing for about 10years, Bird song was everywhere in those days, 1n 1977 I went down to Stewart Island, and I went to the island every summer until 2011, There were hundreds of Parrots & Kiwis & all other birds everywhere I walked, I made several Documentary films for NZDA, & I did win awards for them as well as Bird photography, I was so disappointed when I heard that DOC was going to poison Stewart Is. because I had seen the massive decline in birds in Kaimanawas. I guess Fantail numbers were in their millions, They would follow me everywhere I walked, catching the insects that I had disturbed, – In all my years in the bush I drank the crystal clear waters & observed the hundreds of Kura & Native Trout, In all my recent trips, Everything has changed, The bush is silent, The Birds are gone, as too the aquatic life. I feel the City Poisoners are totally illiterate when it comes to nature & the NZ bush.
    I am 74 years old this year, But I an still guiding young hunters to see their first deer.
    David McDonald

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      1. Yes I do have a wealth of Photos I have picture of wonderful Large Coloured Butterflies that you will not find today, of Dragonflies that were larger than birds & native trout that would feed from my hand, I found many Maori artifacts, some I still have today,One alone was valued recently at $20,000. but then disappeared from my home. Go to Trademe & read my current ads, “Roaring Horn-Deer caller”, then click on (sellers other listings) to see my Scenic hunt service, It is such a shame that the Few people who are poisoning NZ do not represent the vast majority., I may write a book one day, if I ever get the time, Dave

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  3. I have not seen a giant Dragonfly at all for 10 years, they were abundant in the 70s, Did you see the dead one I photgraphed in Northland,? 1080 is killing them all

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  4. I would come to Auck for provisions & sold skins Directly to a Tourist shot Opp. the ferry Buildings where I got the best price, also to check on my “Boarders” who were staying in my house. in 1968 I married Kay, she was a sister of my boarder Don, She would come with me , back to the bush, carrying a heavy pack, often stopping halfway sleeping in the bush with only a sleeping bag, then on to our hut which Punchy had shown me, he called it the “Rats Nest” but it always had a possum in there.when Kay got pregnant she chose to go back to our house in the city. How can I send you some photos?

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