Learning recently that the Department of Conservation had warned freshwater anglers not to eat their catch, in case it contained traces of 1080 poison, my immediate response was that the deadly toxin might improve the taste.

This is because when eating trout, no matter how it's prepared, I've never managed to eliminate the fact that the flesh has the earthy taste of the grave.

Although I have a holiday residence at an address famed for its fishing, I haven't been inspired to join the devotees who trudge out in the miserable dawn light to catch something I believe is barely edible because of its muddy flavour.

More adventurous gourmet friends assure me that if I tried trout delicately smoked and infused with the likes of garlic and lemongrass, I'd be converted into showing more enthusiasm for spending endless hours throwing lures into the lake.


I'd rather eat boxed fish fingers from the supermarket freezer.

The recent dire advice to anglers follows reports that mice that have succumbed to 1080 consumption often end up in the waterways, to be nibbled on by fish.

David Haynes of the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers is quoted as stating: "Research suggests that trout eating a single poisoned mouse could end up containing more than 40 times the Food Safety Authority limits."

Apparently, small mammals suffering from acute 1080 poisoning usually seek water, so the chances are high that they will die close to a riverbed and end up drifting as a carcass in our lakes and rivers.

The late Rachel Carson, marine biologist and the author of the 1962 book Silent Spring, the work that awoke the world to the dangers of dousing the landscape with toxic material, would be rolling her eyes in disbelief that 50 years later we're still struggling with cause and effect in environmental matters.

In New Zealand, the problem of controlling the pests we have misguidedly imported since colonisation falls mainly on the Department of Conservation.

It suggests that the average cost per hectare of aerially spreading 1080 to control vermin is about $17, which can be much cheaper than ground trapping.

The department's bland assurances that the product does not bio-accumulate and breaks down in water to non-toxic by-products is comforting, but there is still something unnerving about the fact that our country continues to dump about 80 per cent of the world's supply of this lethal concoction on our supposedly pure and green landscape.