1080 TALES

This page focuses on our love for animals, and the grief we all experience when their life is ended in inhumane ways. If even a fraction of the animals that are dying in the bush (and our back yards) were all put in a pen in public view and deliberately fed 1080, and we were forced to watch their profound sufferering, the use of 1080 would cease today.

Our goal in sharing the tales of those who have witnessed 1080’s effects are multiple:

1.Sharing the trauma of losing beloved pets and wildlife can help heal pain for the person who has experienced loss.

2. Stories such as these can engender compassion in the reader. Emotions can evolve – from initial depression, anger and blame to hope for change and calm, clear inspired action. We don’t have to be victims. Together, as one big voice, we can lead the leaders to a more compassionate world.

Please note: specific names of those involved in 1080 operations have been omitted. We respect personal rights (as well as animal rights.) Sometimes those that have been involved in 1080 operations and witnessed firsthand its effects, later become the staunchest of supporters for change.

We hold the dream, that one day, soon we can tell our grandchildren, that once upon a time,  they used to drop poison from the sky. And animals used to die. But we made the difference!

Dog Deaths by 1080

Since buying a rural block of land, we’ve been subjected to three aerial drops of 1080 on nearby and neighbouring land. We’ve lost pets and stock to each drop, been bullied and threatened by the pest control supervisors – all reported at the time to the company responsible and also included in a submission to the ERMA … – not to mention having had to collect and bury the corpses of all the dead birds we find in our paddocks in the months following each drop. However, the worst drop for us by far was in 2003. A large number of dogs in the area were poisoned that year and we lost three. At that time I was still relatively naïve concerning 1080 and when I was told by the pest control people that my dogs would be safe if kept on our land I believed them. Within a couple of weeks of the drop, I came home from school pick up to find Bessie (an aged working collie whom we had rescued from the pound) and Whitby (a young collie we had taken in as a pup from a neighbouring farmer who was threatening to shoot him and his litter-mates) very unsettled, panting hard and seeming disorientated. They rapidly became acutely distressed: growling, whining and snapping at themselves, then taking off under the house and thrashing about. It was at this stage I realised that they must have been poisoned but, even if I had been able to crawl under the house (I was pregnant at the time) and carry them out and into the truck without getting bitten, the nearest vets is a good 40 minutes drive away and they would have been dead before we got there. And so the kids and I were forced to listen to our pets howl and scream in pain as they convulsed and died.

I managed to get hold of the guy in charge of the poison operation the next morning. He pretended to be sympathetic, claiming it was a rare and very unfortunate accident, and that perhaps a hawk had flown out of the drop zone with a piece of poisoned corpse and dropped it into our paddocks, where our dogs had then found it. He said the chances of it happening again were non-existent.

After burying our pets and mourning them, a month or so later we decided to adopt a tiny puppy from the SPCA as company for our sole remaining dog, Lola, who was missing her murdered playmates as much as we were. Although we had been re-assured it would not happen again, we took the extra precautions of no longer walking our dogs in our paddocks or forestry – either driving them down to the beach or restricting them to the front garden. If I had to go out without the dogs, I would chain them so they couldn’t wander down to our paddocks. Our new puppy, Jess, was dead within weeks. I came home from school pick up (having left her chained to the shed) to find her barking and snapping at her belly. She was in such distress that it took me nearly five minutes to unchain her and when I did she immediately raced off under the house. She died soon after, screaming horribly as she passed.

I rang the boss that afternoon, screaming down the phone at the boss what had just happened and threatening him with the media. He drove straight out, apologizing profusely, and explaining that there had been a number of problems with the drop – the public had not been adequately notified or informed of the risks, and he had already received reports of at least 10 other dogs having been poisoned locally. Contrary to what he had previously told me, he then explained that sometimes mammals and birds poisoned by 1080 could travel a great distance before finally succumbing to the poison, and that obviously a poisoned rat or something had run onto our land and under our garden shed to die and for Jess to eat. He promised to send me staff out to comb our land for poisoned corpses the next day and to bring me a muzzle for our sole remaining dog.

When the guys turned up next morning and I told them what their boss had said, they told me that it was bulls**t and he knew it. They said any creature within a 30k radius of the drop zone, which would pick up or consume poisoned meat/corpses, was at serious risk and that (again contrary to what their boss had told me) it could take up to a year for the poisoned corpses of possums, birds etc. to decompose adequately/no longer pose a threat to scavengers.

As postscript, a few years later, when I was unfortunate enough to again have dealings with the {pest management boss} and reminded him of the pets we had already lost to his poison operations, plus the other 10 dogs he had quoted me as having died from the 2003 Akatore drop, he blithely informed me that actually that number had been revised to 24+!
1080 is not humane, it kills agonizingly and it keeps killing; it is not targeted, it kills not only other mammals but also the very birds the poisoners claim to be protecting; 1080 is not safe to humans, whilst the short term effects are serious enough, the long-term effects are still worringly unknown; 1080 is a class 1 toxin and its use should be outlawed, there is simply no need for it.

story by Michelle, Taieri Mouth


The following story, from 1080 eyewitness Facebook page, tells the experience of an Australian dog owner – Rhonda- whose pet was killed by 1080:

Alex has asked me to share my story as I have had an eye witness account of what happens to an animal when they are poisoned with 1080. I live in Australia and lost my dog to a bait. She picked it up (unknowingly) on our afternoon run out bush. About an hour after getting home, she started squatting to pee every few minutes. Then she started to throw up. She came to me for cuddles and laid in my lap. I let her outside when she started vomiting again. Then the horror started. Out of nowhere she screamed as if in pain and started running around. She ran into walls. She screamed. She lost her bowels. And then she started seizing. After a seizure she would scream again, get up and run into the walls. Then she would seize again. She repeated this over and over again until she was dead. She had a far away look in her eyes and they literally were glowing green. Maggie died within 2 hours of her first symptoms. The screaming, running rabid and seizing lasted almost an hour. There is no reversal agent or drug for 1080. If I ever see another animal die of a 1080 bait in my life time, it will be too soon. Not even a feral animal deserves a death like that. I had nightmares for months after Maggie died. 7 years later, as I write this I can’t stop the tears and pain from what I witnessed. It’s as clear to me now as it was back then. I will never understand how such a poison could not only be developed but continued to be used for animal control. Surely there is a more humane way. Shame to anyone who supports 1080.



One comment

  1. Adam says:

    After travelling and working in NZ for nine months – and hoping to stay for 2 years or longer – I’m really shocked and disappointed to learn of the 1080 campaign. Researching the history, understanding the present state and knowing the future plans of 1080 has turned my view of the country, namely it’s government and working ethics in industry, on its head. Coming from the UK it was so refreshing to come to a place where it seemed the citizens still had a right to the truth and a strong voice in such important and controversial issues such as 1080. However after looking a little deeper into the 1080 debate, SOMETHING I RECOMMEND TO EVERYBODY, the indoctrination and propaganda surrounding the topic is thick, deceiving and truly only skin-deep not standing up to the lightest of scrutinization. Furthermore 1080 drops are taking place now and many, many more are in the pipeline (including a massive drop on Stewart Island where Kiwi, Kea, Kakapo to name a few species of native bird will die as a direct result) regardless of the people’s voice.
    In short the 1080 campaign is NOT a viable solution but instead another ‘quick-fix’ to a vastly complex ecological issue. It is cruel to all parts of the ecosystem, causing painful deaths to the invertebrates of the forest floor right up to the beautiful native birds and introduced mammals of the NZ bush.
    Above anything else I implore readers to look into the matter themselves as it takes very little investigation on the subject to discover the unsuitability and cruelty of the 1080 campaign and understand the actual motives for its implementation, namely being financial gain for a select few.
    My action step will be to not buy any NZ meat products and to tell anyone I think will listen with an open mind about 1080 until it is stopped.

    Please take action to stop 1080 in any way you can.
    Thanks for reading.

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