Eight-million hectares of Department of Conservation estate is a lot of land. Fill it with mountains, forests, vulnerable native fauna and flora and throw in tens of millions of hungry possums and you have a problem.

But never fear, the New Zealander is an expert on many things. The rules of any major sporting code, the amount of time you should wait at a roundabout, whether you can be both the Prime Minister and a mum and a growing number are now apparently experts on possum control.

Sixty-thousand of them are manning Operation Ban 1080 on Facebook. It is an easy club to join. No prior knowledge required, just click 'like' and come on in. Ban the toxin, trap the possums, up yours DoC.

Read more: Rotorua 1080 protest gets support from passersby
Ban 1080 group at Ngongotahā roundabout for peaceful protest


The original concerns over 1080 came from a logical place. Hunters upset over the poisoning of deer and pigs, or the death of pet or hunting dogs taken into operational areas and accidentally poisoned as a result.

Legitimate concerns by people who lived, worked and recreated in our wild places, and concerns that can be managed in a number of ways. But sadly that logic is no longer with us. '1080 kills people' is scrawled across the wall of Parliament this morning.

The possums, the rats, the deer, the native birds and forests, have all been sidelined.

1080 is now in the realm of chem-trails, fluoride and child vaccines. Science and statistics are deemed irrelevant, numerous peer-reviewed research papers countered with a re-post on Facebook.

Professionals who have dedicated their lives to pest management are countered by a swipe from the couch by someone who knows someone who saw a dead bird once.

On whichever side of the argument you sit, no one can dispute the growing momentum of the anti-1080 movement.

As world politics have shown, this type of momentum can have unforeseen consequences that we all have to live with. Although the 1080 debate has almost left them behind, the possums are still there, munching away. If 1080 use stopped, there would be even more of them.

New Zealand is now an urban nation, 90per cent of us live in cities, every rural employer struggles to find good workers. Without 1080 there wouldn't be an onslaught of 'good keen men' trekking off into the wilderness to do battle with their trusty traps. Just more hungry possums and fewer native species.


Ewan Kelsall is a senior environmental policy adviser for Federated Farmers, has worked in pest management for 10 years, and is a keen recreational hunter