An article here from psychologytoday.com, Mark Bekoff PhD, on the use of 1080 in NZ. Use would be a polite word given NZ has been literally slathered with this deadly poison for over 50 years. It’s killing everything and not just pests. EWR
“New Zealand’s former Commissioner of the Environment—1080 is moderately humane.”
“There are more humane ways of dealing with ‘invasive species’ than 1080, world-renowned conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall says.”
“I abhor the use of the word pest.” —Jane Goodall
“It is my view based on careful analysis of the evidence that not only should the use of 1080 continue (including in aerial operations) to protect our forests, but that we should use more of it.” —Jan Wright, New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (2007-2017)
New Zealand continues to have major animal welfare issues. A growing number of people are extremely concerned with their war on wildlife, the goal of which is to kill all invasive “pests,” including rats, possums, stoats, and other invasive animals by 2050, using the horrific poison 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate)—which also kills numerous non-target nonhuman animals (animals) including cows and native kea—along with other brutal methods including trapping, snaring, shooting, and possum stomping. Michael Morris rightly notes that in this war “there are issues with the recruitment of children for killing, humiliation of combatants, questionable economic motives for the ‘war,’ deception by government agencies, lack of consultation, a lack of consideration of alternatives, the use of excessive suffering, and unrealistic expectations.”
In addition to adults taking part in this widespread massacre, youngsters also are being trained to harm and to kill non-native animals in school-sanctioned programs. The Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand has called for a ban on school possum hunts. It also should be noted that as of May 2015, New Zealand declared all animals to be sentient beings and continues to rank among countries with the highest levels of domestic violence.
I’ve listed a number of essays in the reference section that deal with what’s happening in a place that many people call “a country of peaceful people.” A native New Zealander told me, “Millions of nonhumans numerous humans would surely disagree with this picture of the country I deeply love. The government is recklessly destroying countless lives and gorgeous landscapes.”
New Zealand’s continuing war on wildlife is one of the most inhumane assaults on nonhuman animals and a wide variety of pristine landscapes, air, and water. It’s clear that public safety has been put at risk by the use of 1080, including reprehensible aerial poisoning operations. I continually receive emails from people who are appalled at the barbaric way in which millions of animals are killed, and beautiful environments are destroyed by environmental poisons, including some messages from people who are all for getting rid of non-native species, but who are deeply concerned and put off by the brutal and inhumane slaughter of these sentient beings.
I recently learned of a report by Dr. Jan Wright written when she was Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, called “Evaluating the use of 1080: Predators, poisons and silent forests,” that sets the current stage for the use of 1080 and other brutal environmental poisons. She continues to work to make parts of New Zealand pest and predator-free. I’ve also learned that many New Zealanders don’t know about this one-sided and misleading essay about this highly condemned poison that causes deep and enduring pain before the animals finally die. Dr. Wright’s report is accessible for free online.
On page 52 of this biased and uninformed report, we read,
“A recent report commissioned by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) rated the relative humaneness of 1080 and other pest control techniques used in New Zealand.159 The results of the NAWAC report form the basis of the humaneness assessments in this report. The NAWAC report rated 1080 as moderately humane.” 1
In a review of the toxicology and ecotoxicology of 1080, Dr. Charles Eason and his colleagues note that compared to the negative ecological impacts of 1080, “the animal welfare implications have received comparatively less attention.” They also write, “In carnivores, and notably in dogs, central nervous system disturbances are marked, and poisoned dogs run uncontrollably, retch and vomit, and appear distressed and agitated with prolonged involuntary muscle contractions exacerbated by convulsions and seizures prior to death from respiratory failure.” Reading the above once made me ill, so I caution you that what happens to animals who ingest 1080 isn’t “pretty,” as a number of people, including a middle-schooler, told me.
What does “moderately humane” really mean?
Being poisoned with 1080 clearly makes for a horrific way to die. It’s “colorless, odorless, and tasteless and is therefore easily ingested by companion animals as well as native species. Its victims—intended or otherwise—experience a slow, agonizing death.” So, it’s time to stop the meaningless talk about 1080 being “moderately humane” or that it amounts to “killing with kindness.”
“Killing with kindness,” a phrase put forth by Nicola Toki, the Threatened Species Ambassador of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DoC), is a misleading and troublesome oxymoron that covers up the hate and violence with which possums and other animals are vilified as “the enemy.” It’s a perversion of the word “kindness.”
It’s clear that the phrase “moderately humane” basically means it’s OK to allow other animals to endure human-caused, horrific pain and suffering before they die. In many instances, it’s what the complacent science of animal welfare is all about—we do the best we can to reduce suffering, but in the end, it’s perfectly OK to cause pain, allowing them to suffer and die intentionally. Welfarism patronizes millions upon millions of animals and doesn’t really protect them, and whenever you see the word “welfare” in the literature, you can be pretty sure something unpleasant is being done to animals.2
The bottom line for welfarists is that they’re trying to make life marginally better for animals in the arenas in which animals are exploited, leaving unquestioned the human practices that cause tremendous animal suffering. Welfarism is a salve for our conscience.
This is the basic reason why Jessica Pierce and I wrote The Animals’ Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age in which we put forth the science of animal well-being in which the life of every single individual matters. This isn’t an animal rights position. Rather, it’s a matter of decency to treat other animals with respect, dignity, and compassion. And this is precisely what the rapidly growing interdisciplinary field of compassionate conservation is all about.
So, this means that even if there are millions of so-called pests, it’s not OK to kill them, because each of their individual lives matters because they are alive. They’re not unfeeling objects with whom we can do whatever we like. Each and every individual cares about how they’re treated. Nonetheless, Dr. Wright and others clearly think it’s just fine to intentionally do things that they know will cause deep pain and suffering.
Calling 1080 “moderately humane” is humane-washing taken to the extreme.
Would 1080 supporters give 1080 to dogs?
It’s also useful to ask those who favor using 1080 if they would give it to dogs and other companion animals. I know some would, however reprehensible this might be. Dogs and cats can harm other animals—they can be “pests” according to some people—and cause environmental damage, so it’s a fair question.
If some people wouldn’t expose these animals to 1080 and other environmental poisons, then why would they allow other sentient beings to experience 1080-induced pain and death? While there are no systematic accounts of dog poisoning due to 1080, around 254 dogs were reported to have been killed by 1080 between 1960 and 1976. Dogs are extremely susceptible to being poisoned.
Along these lines, Dr. Wright writes, “It must be extremely upsetting to lose a cherished dog to 1080, but only eight dogs have died this way in the last four years. The sad reality is that many many more will die on roads each year, and no one is proposing a moratorium on traffic. It is important to keep risks in perspective.”
This is easy for her to say, but people who lose dogs or other animals to 1080 don’t like it one bit, and they’re deeply affected by their losses. Eight dogs are eight too many. For an update on the number of dogs who are actually harmed or killed by 1080 please see note 3. They aren’t spared from the horrific effects of 1080, but some people like to downplay the real numbers.
It’s high time to stop using 1080 and other environmental poisons once and for all: “Cruelty can’t stand the spotlight,”
“In New Zealand, flawed policies to exterminate entire species from our nation are revealing just how important it is that psychology, sociology, history, and ethics, as a few examples, take a greater role in environmental debate and policy.”
“New Zealand stands alone in the world for its widespread and growing use of the super toxin ‘1080’, spread by helicopter over hundreds of thousands of hectares of conservation land, rolling hills, and even into waterways and drinking water catchments.” —Reihana Robinson, The Killing Nation: New Zealand’s State-Sponsored Addiction to Poison 1080
I hope that as more and more people become aware of the wide-ranging effects not only on targeted individuals but also on other animals and their homes, they will work hard to stop its use once and for all. Jane Goodall is right on the mark when she notes, “There are more humane ways of dealing with ‘invasive species’ than 1080.” And, going a step further, there are many who favor using more humane non-lethal alternatives, because, in reality, the violent, lethal methods that are used to get rid of non-natives other than 1080 also are brutally inhumane, and they don’t really work. They’re not close to being expressions of compassion and empathy, the animals surely aren’t being killed “softly,” and they don’t help to develop a culture of coexistence between humans and nonhumans.
It’s also hypocritical to declare nonhumans to be sentient beings and then sanction war on them using violent methods that knowingly cause intense and prolonged suffering and death. And using violence against other animals can become addictive and have long-term effects.
New Zealand can easily become a global model for banning the use of 1080 and other horrific environmental poisons and adopting nonlethal methods for dealing with the problems at hand. And, educators should stop teaching children that it’s OK to harm and to kill other animals because this also doesn’t work and establishes a horrific model for future generations. It’s good that not all youngsters want to partake in killing for fun and games.
I look forward to New Zealand and other countries replacing violent and ineffective wars on other animals with respect and compassion for who these nonhuman beings truly are. It’s the decent thing to do. Clearly, declaring other animals to be sentient beings means absolutely nothing to those people who continue to brutalize millions of animals in what some ironically call “a country of peaceful people.”
1) Jan Wright also writes, “The symptoms poisoned animals display also differ. Possums stop eating within an hour of consuming 1080, become lethargic and die between 5 and 40 hours later, depending on the dose consumed.160 Rats can show pain-related behaviours such as increased grooming and stomach scratching, altered breathing, un-coordination and convulsions…Herbivores usually die of heart failure, whereas carnivores are more likely to suffer convulsions and respiratory failure, for possums it lasts between five and forty hours to die.” Wright also acknowledges that 1080 may kill other animals than introduced predators, such as deer and dogs (who may ‘go through states of fitting and uncoordinated movement to difficulty in breathing, lethargy, and paralysis. Vomiting can also occur.”162 (The numbers refers to references in this report.)
2) In practice, animal welfare isn’t much concerned with the plight of individual animals, and “good animal welfare” isn’t really good enough for the billions of non-human animals who are used in a wide variety of human-controlled venues, ranging from so-called factory farms, to laboratories, zoos and circuses, to pets, to wild animals and conservation efforts both in captivity and in more natural settings.
3) “A lethal dose of 1080 for a dog is extremely small compared to other mammals and birds, as seen from LD50 doses (Table 2), and survival of invertebrates exposed to, or dosed with, 1080 (Eason et al. 1993a, b; Booth & Wickstrom 1999). Dog deaths from 1080 poisoning creates enormous negative publicity around the use of 1080 in New Zealand. A comprehensive record of dog poisoning incidents throughout all of the years that 1080 has been used in New Zealand has not been kept. However, 254 dogs were reported killed by 1080 during the period 1960–1976 (Rammell & Fleming 1978), thus reinforcing the knowledge that dogs are very susceptible to secondary poisoning by 1080 (e.g. Eason et al. 2011; Goh et al. 2005). Working farm dogs and hunting dogs are especially susceptible, often because they are in or near operational areas.” Link to paper here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03014223.2012.740488
The ‘official’ figure of 8 dogs is an insult. One small vet survey alone found 64 dogs presented at vets with 1080 poisoning. As above, 256 reported killed during 1960-1976. Vet toxicology reporting puts the figure in the thousands. If you think about how many unreported dogs are killed out in the bush or on farms where the owners never get to the vet on time or can’t afford to pay a vet to investigate the death, the true figure of pet and working dogs killed by 1080 poison in New Zealand alone would be staggering. Many people talk about the dogs that they lost to 1080 on social media and these were never reported. It’s a tragedy in this country that those who think the poison makes more birds will say to these people they should control their dogs better and it is their fault alone. The truth is that 1080 has fins, wings, legs, and it does not stay in designated ‘drop zones’. See the story of Lulu below.
Lulu’s story https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/72573428/dog-dies-after-swallowing-1080-vet
And from a retired veterinarian:
I doubt the historical data on dog deaths from 1080 is very accurate as there is no obligation to report them.
As I may have mentioned previously the New Zealand Veterinary Association conducted a survey on treatment outcomes for 1080 poisoned dogs at the request of MPI. MPI anticipated the survey would show 1080 poisoned dogs can be treated successfully. The limited and (selected?) results revealed a very poor prognosis from a surprisingly low number reported cases over the 10 year period of the survey.
My experience on the Coast was that dogs died before they could be brought into the vet clinic. My only successful cases (2) involved secondary poisoning from possum carcasses washed onto farmland long after the aerial application. Never from primary ingestion of a bait.
These video clips document, and present evidence from aerial 1080 poison operations undertaken around New Zealand
Some essays with numerous references about New Zealand’s war on wildlife.
Compassionate Conservation Isn’t Seriously or Fatally Flawed. (Contains numerous references about compassionate conservation.)
The Clean Pet Food Revolution Will Change the World. (An interview with the authors of a riveting new book about pet food consumption and its effect on nonhumans and the planet as a whole.)
Anthropomorphism Favors Coexistence, Not Deadly Domination. (Contains many references about compassionate conservation.)
Eason, C., A. Miller, S. Ogilvie & A. Fairweather. An updated review of the toxicology and ecotoxicology of sodium fluoroacetate (in New Zealand. Journal of Ecology, 35, No. 1, pp. 1-20, 2011.
Flora and Fauna of Aotearoa. New Zealand Government 1080 Poison Tests Flawed. Scoop, 2019.
Morris, Michael C. Predator Free New Zealand and the ‘War’ on Pests: Is it a just War? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 2019.
O’Callaghan, Jody. Conservationist Jane Goodall says ‘more humane ways’ than 1080 to deal with invasive species. Stuff, May 28, 2019.
Palmer, Scott. What is 1080, and why do people oppose it? Newshub, 2018.
Robinson, Reihana. The Killing Nation: New Zealand’s State-Sponsored Addiction to Poison 1080. Off the Common Books, 2017.
TheGrafBoys. Cows & Endangered Birds Poisoned in Taranaki Aerial Drop. (New Zealand)
Wallach, Arian, et al. Summoning compassion to address the challenges of conservation. Conservation Biology, 2018.
Wallingford, Golde. New Zealand, The Poisoned Nation.