1080 is the brand name given to the synthetic version of sodium fluoroacetate – a toxic, odourless, white powder compound, which naturally occurs in plants, acting as a powerful defence. However the synthetic version, 1080, is far more potent and kills. New Zealand is the largest buyer of 1080 in the world, using over 80 per cent of the chemical produced.
1080 is distributed in laced bait via ground and aerial application by the Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Animal Health Board (AHB). It is mainly used to kill possums, however other introduced species, including feral cats, rabbits, rats and stoats, are also targeted.
1080 is banned in several countries, including Brazil, Belize, Cuba, Laos, Slovenia and Thailand, as well as in some states of the United States where aerial distribution and its use on all mammals but coyotes is prohibited.
Death from 1080 is cruel and protracted. Animals receiving a lethal dose of 1080 show severe signs of poisoning, with death resulting from heart or respiratory failure. Clinical signs of poisoning include rapid and laboured breathing, tremors and muscle spasms, terminal convulsions and death. It usually takes possums between 6-18 hours to die.
A witness to a possum poisoning commented:
“From about four hours after poisoning until death all lethally dosed possums exhibited spasms involving the limbs or body. Possums vocalised during spasms, tremors or seizures. Vocalisation was loud and prolonged. (Squeaking, gasping and gagging noises were also frequently heard during retching and terminal breathing.) Seizures included stiffening of limbs with hunching of the shoulders; jerks in limbs, head, abdomen or shoulder; leg paddling; rolling onto the back with a stiffened body; continuous body rolling; trembling; and rigidity of the entire body. Possums were sometimes propelled into the air by these movements…”
1080 is not a humane way to kill any animal. Death is painful, torturous and slow.
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