A Manuherikia Valley farmer is making a last-ditch effort to rid his land of rabbits by dropping 1080 for the first time in three decades.

Ophir farmer Sam Leask, who owns the Booth Rd farm, said it was the first time a 1080 drop had been done on his land in about 30 years.

"The rabbits have just got away ... I've never seen rabbits like this in my life. It's just got out to the stage that there's so many rabbits we have to go back to the old methods. We hate to have to drop 1080 but we have no other choice."

He had used pindone pellets, and completed shooting day and night but wanted something more effective.

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He ordered the 1080 drop at the start of the year, and hoped the recently released K5 rabbit virus by the Otago Regional Council would have some effect.

But as the virus was only set to kill 40% of rabbits, he needed something more effective, he said.

"If [the virus] killed 95% of rabbits we may have changed our minds [on 1080]."

He said the anti-1080 activists should have "nothing to worry about" as "1080 breaks down when it hits the ground and can they come up with an alternative? It's either rabbits or us."

Despite Mr Leask not having dropped 1080 for several decades, his contractor said the practice had been common "since the 1950s".

The contractor, who wished to remain anonymous, is carrying out work from July-September to kill rabbits on the Booth Rd farm and Ida Valley Station using 1080 poison.

The poison was only used for a short period during winter, when rabbits stopped eating grass and turned to carrots, he said.

His company dropped 1080 on five to six Central Otago farms each winter, and four other companies in the area did the same.

"The farmers, they've been doing this forever pretty much, doing blocks every year to keep on top of the rabbits. It's something they need to do to maintain their farming practices."

The contractor said the amount of 1080 used in the rabbit drops was "at its lowest dosage" at 0.2%, compared with 0.8% for drops to kill possums.

While controversial, the use of 1080 was vital for farmers, some of whom spent at least $100,000 annually on rabbit control, the contractor said.

Otago Regional Council director of environmental monitoring and operations Scott MacLean said the operation was not part of a council programme but it was not concerned by the use of the poison.

"It is every land occupier's responsibility to control pests on their land and 1080 is commonly used to achieve this ... 1080 is an effective toxin in rabbit control. It has been used for many years and is considered an important tool in the pest-control toolbox."