A recent University of Otago study into the effects of a 1080 poison operation challenges claims about the negative impacts on native wildlife.
The on-going study, which is being conducted by scientists from the university’s Threatened Birds Research Group, is investigating the effects of modern aerial 1080 methods on a marked population of native robins.
Researchers found that aerial 1080, applied in the Silver Peaks region in Otago, reduced rats, possums and mice to very low numbers and numbers remained low for at least 3 months, while in a non-treatment control area (Silverstream; also in Otago), pest numbers remained high throughout the study.
The researchers also monitored robin populations in both areas. All banded birds in the Silver Peaks site were observed alive 16 days after the 1080 operation, and 67 per cent of monitored nests at the site successfully produced at least one fledgling. While all monitored birds in the control site were also re-sighted, breeding success was markedly lower, with only eight per cent of monitored nests successfully producing at least one fledgling.
“The conclusions we can draw from this data is that: Firstly, the pre-fed 1080 operation at Silver Peaks had no negative effect on the robins; Secondly, that it knocked the possum and rat numbers down to almost zero; And, thirdly, that robins’ experienced relatively high breeding success when predator numbers were low,” said research supervisor, Associate Professor Ian Jamieson.
“Gaps in the research around the effect of 1080 operations on native birds have been highlighted by both DOC and Forest & Bird,” said AHB research and TB eradication manager Paul Livingstone.
“We hope that this study helps to reassure people that aerial pest control operations using 1080 have genuinely changed for the better”.
Prof Jamieson was also interviewed on Radio New Zealand. You can listen to the audio below.