The use of poisons including 1080 and brodifacoum will be subject to new rules after concern about inconsistency between different regional rules.

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith made the announcement while visiting Tiritiri Matangi Sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf.

"I know there is opposition to poisons like 1080 and brodifacoum but they are essential tools to saving New Zealand's natural heritage.

"The change will not increase any of the risks around the use of these poisons...It is expected to save $11 million over the next 20 years, enabling more pests to be controlled and more species saved."


The new national regulations will start from April 1, and are approved under the Resource Management Act.

Smith said the new approach would standardise the rules for using poisons like 1080.

Currently there are different rules according to what region the poison is used in.

The change was advocated for by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, who expressed concern about the duplication and inconsistency between regional rules.

The Government has recently tightened up regulations around 1080, after a blackmail scare that cost the country millions of dollars.

Jeremy Hamish Kerr was jailed last July after admitting two counts of blackmail over the 1080 scandal, which made global headlines.

In November 2014, Kerr mixed highly concentrated amounts of the poison with baby milk formula and posted them to the dairy co-op and to Federated Farmers, with a letter demanding the country stop using 1080 or he would release poisoned infant milk powder into the Chinese market and one unspecified market.

The Ministry of Primary Industries moved to secure the safety of the dairy supply chain, testing 150,000 samples, and the blackmail letters triggered an unprecedented police investigation. The blackmail case cost the country more than $37 million.

In response the government introduced new controls for all workplaces and laboratories using sodium fluoroacetate (1080), including a requirement for holders of 1080 to notify the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the quantity and supplier.

Any new imports require an import certificate from the EPA before it can be collected from the New Zealand Customs Service. Laboratory managers must also ensure that 1080 is securely locked up when not in use.

In announcing the Government's target for New Zealand to be predator-free by 2050 last July, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said 1080 poison would continue to play a key role.

"It is always going to be the weapon of choice in the battle to get rid of these vermin in the very steep country," she said.

1080 has been widely used in New Zealand against pests such as rats, stoats and opossum, and has faced fierce opposition from some, partly because pest-baiting campaigns in the past have killed non-target species such as dogs, cattle and deer.

A majority of scientists support the use of 1080 in pest control, and their work has been important in devising more effective ways to spread 1080 baits and to reduce the amount of actual poison in pellets laced with the substance.

In June 2011 Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright issued perhaps the most significant study on the use of 1080 in New Zealand. It was released at a time supporters and opponents of 1080 were at loggerheads with calls for a moratorium on its use. Her conclusions significantly pushed the debate towards continued use of the pesticide, though she stressed the need for its safe application.

Dr Wright said New Zealand did not have an alternative method of effectively killing possums, rats and stoats.

What is 1080?
Sodium monofluoroacetate, commonly known as 1080, is a fine white powder. It has a slight odour and taste and is said to dissolve easily in water.

While manufactured 1080 is a highly lethal poison to many species, the active ingredient, fluoroacetate, is identical to a substance that occurs naturally in many poisonous plants. These plants are found in Brazil, Africa, and Australia.

1080 comes in several forms, usually in small dyed green pellets, but also sprayed carrot baits, pastes and gels.

How long has it been used here?
1080 has been used in New Zealand for pest control since the mid-1950s and is the only poison registered for aerial drops. It is also used in Australia, the united States, Mexico and Israel. New Zealand uses about 80 per cent of the world's production of manufactured 1080.

How does it work?
Whether laid on the ground, or dropped from the sky in large remote areas, the 1080 is eaten by the animal.

If enough is ingested, the poison disrupts the process of breaking down food to provide energy for cells to function. Once the animal has run out of energy, it dies from heart or respiratory failure.

Herbivores like possums become lethargic, and usually die within 6-18 hours from cardiac failure. Carnivores experience problems with their central nervous systems and may suffer convulsions before dying.

What are the risks?
1080 is extremely toxic to many animals, and dogs are particularly sensitive.

In 2007, West Coast man Ryan Fitzmaurice's pet Labrador, Tigger, died after eating a possum that had 1080 in its system.

The possum had been poisoned by a drop near his home. Fitzmaurice was offered undisclosed compensation by the pest control company. Humans are also at risk if they ingest 1080.

What measures are taken to keep the public and their animals safe?
DoC must meet strict Ministry of Health conditions before getting a permit for a 1080 operation.

DoC must also talk to communities where 1080 operations are planned, let the public know an operation is going ahead and put up signs to show areas where poisoning has taken place.