Effect on the Environment
Comparison with other poisons
Compound 1080 or sodium monofluoroacetate, is a naturally occurring compound produced by many species of Australian plant. Sodium monofluoroacetate occurs naturally in about 40 native plant species in Australia, primarily of the genera, Gastralobium, which grow in Western Australia, across northern Australia in the Northern Territory and in central Queensland. No fluoroacetate bearing plants are known to occur in Tasmania or the other southern States.
Compound 1080 is a white fluffy powder that is odourless and tasteless. 1080 was first synthesised in Europe in 1896 and developed in the USA as a rodenticide during the 1940s. It was first used as a rabbit poison in Tasmania in 1952. It is now widely used in Australia and New Zealand to control pest animals.
In the field, it is mixed with bait material, usually chopped carrot, to provide a final concentration of 0.014 per cent of the active ingredient.
Wild animals such as wallabies and possums may only be poisoned where officially permitted by the Wildlife Management officers of the Department of Primary Industries and Water. Such permits will only be issued if poisoning is an essential element of their wildlife management program.
If a dog or cat ate a pademelon poisoned with 1080, it could obtain a lethal dose of the poison. In fact, one dead pademelon could contain enough 1080 to poison 12 dogs or 9 cats. Other carnivorous animals and birds are not likely to be killed by secondary poisoning as they would need to eat their own weight in poisoned rabbits to obtain a lethal dose (see Table 2).
These figures are approximate and assume that:
1. the pademelon weighed 6 kg and ate 50 g of carrot bait, and
2. 1080 is evenly distributed through the carcase.
Actually the poison is present in larger concentrations in the stomach and some other organs such as liver, heart, lung, kidneys and brain. Carnivores which show a liking for these organs therefore have an increased susceptibility to secondary poisoning.
The usual fate of 1080 in baits is to be consumed by the target pests in the days or weeks following baiting.
It is inferior to 1080 because:
Pindone is used for rabbit control in areas where there is an increased risk of secondary poisoning of dogs. It is an anticoagulant, and there is an antidote available, but native carnivores and birds of prey may be at greater risk from eating poisoned carcasses.
There is a definite risk of accidental poisoning of sheep, cattle, goats, horses and pigs, so every care must be taken to keep stock away from a poisoned area until all uneaten poisoned bait is removed.
There is a high risk of secondary poisoning if dogs eat poisoned rabbits or wallabies.
Poisoned animals are not found near the burrow so a count of carcases cannot be used to assess the effectiveness of the control operation.
All 1080 poison operations in Tasmania are performed under the supervision of DPIPWE Wildlife Management officers. These officers ensure that the operation is carried out according to the Code of Practice for Use of 1080 Poison for Native Browsing Animal Control.
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