The use of the poison 1080 is being defended by the Department of Conservation and other environmental groups ahead of a planned drop and associated protests.

As a social media campaign opposing the use of the controversial poison gains traction, DOC has come out in defense of the poison's use, with support from Ospri, Federated Farmers, Forest & Bird and WWF-NZ.

In a joint statement, the groups said they believed 1080 was "an effective, safe and valuable tool in the fight to protect New Zealand's forests and native birds, bats, insects and lizards".

They described 1080 as a highly effective toxin and a necessary tool to help protect our native species.

Rabbits are on the hit-list for 1080 drops. photo / Glenn Taylor
Rabbits are on the hit-list for 1080 drops. photo / Glenn Taylor

Opposition to the use of 1080 has been growing on social media and protests against its use will be held in several Northland towns tomorrow - just days before planned aerial drops of the poison over Russell Forest and Cape Brett.

Events in Whangārei, Kerikeri, Dargaville, Kawakawa and other centres are part of the nationwide Operation Ban 1080, a rolling demonstration promoted on social media against the pesticide also known as sodium fluoroacetate.

There have been numerous protests in the past few days with the majority planned for tomorrow.

Opposition to 1080 is largely based on claims it kills native animals and birds as well as the pests it targets, poisons domestic animals who ingest it and gets into waterways.

Those in favour of its use claim predator pest numbers are so high and the damage they've caused so severe, that without extreme measures some native forests would soon be beyond repair.

Today's methods and strength of 1080 are said to be safer and more effective than the 1080 used years ago, according to supporters of its use.

Forest and Bird defended the use of 1080 and said other methods of pest control such as trapping could never cover the vast and inaccessible areas that aerial 1080 operations reach.

"Biodegradable aerial 1080 is the most effective tool we have for suppressing rats, possums and stoats in one operation over large, difficult to access wilderness areas—where most of our native wildlife lives," the statement said.


The organisations said the use of 1080 was backed by years of testing, review and research by scientists from Landcare Research, Universities, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Ministry of Health and the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

DOC said those concerned with the impact 1080 had on the environment, water, animal welfare and wild food sources should visit that addresses these issues.