1080 is the common name of a highly toxic pesticide called Sodium fluoroacetate. This is its molecular formula:
An aerial 1080 drop in the Dart, Routeburn and Caples Valleys is expected within the next fortnight, before the summer tramping season begins.
The Department of Conservation advised the public last week that from Saturday, October 15, it would begin an operation to scatter the controversial predator-control poison.
But operations manager, Wakatipu district, Geoff Owen said yesterday he was waiting for a drop in Fiordland to be completed.
“We have to pretty much wait until they’re done and dusted,” Mr Owen said.
“Then we’ve got to have the right weather window and with us having deer repellent on our bait, that’s taken a bit longer to provide from the manufacturers.”
Mr Owen wanted the helicopter drop to go ahead before the walking season.
“It could be towards the end of this week but hopefully at least within the next fortnight, as walking season would pose other challenges.”
Doc will drop cereal baits containing the pesticide sodium fluoroacetate (1080) over about 19,500ha of public conservation land, encompassing Dart Valley, Beans Burn, Rock Burn, Routeburn, North Branch Routeburn, Caples Valley, and Kay and Fraser Creeks.
The sowing rate is 1kg of bait per hectare.
The valleys are included in 19 sites chosen by the department as part of its next phase of the Battle for our Birds pest-control programme, for which the Government has budgeted $20.7million.
The poison controls the number of rodents, stoats and possums, which threaten many populations of native birds such as mohua (yellowhead), whio (blue duck), piwauwau (rock wren), kaka and kea.
But it is also poisonous to humans and domestic animals.
During the drop, the Dan’s Paddock Conservation Area and parts of the Lower Dart Conservation Area will be temporarily closed to the public.
The cylindrical pellets, about 3cm long, 2cm wide and weighing 6g, contain about 0.15% biodegradable 1080.
Doc reminds the public not to touch the bait, which is brownish-green in colour rather than the usual green due to the coating of deer repellent.
People should ensure children did not touch the bait and stopped dogs accessing animal carcasses.
No-one should eat animals from the area following the drop.
Use of the poison has long been controversial, with anti-1080 campaigners raising concerns about its indiscriminate nature and perceived environmental impact.
The valleys operation was originally scheduled for September but was delayed.