Report finds 1080 critical to saving threatened species until replacement found

Media Release |

The use of 1080 poison in Australia to control feral animals remains critical to the success of large-scale conservation programs and the recovery of threatened species until a viable replacement is found, a report released by the Invasive Species Council today shows.

“The use of 1080 in Australia has been highly contentious and that is why we commissioned this report, 1080: A Weighty Ethical Issue, to draw on the latest research and review the conservation and ethical consequences of its use,” Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox said today.

The report finds 1080 has been essential for enabling the survival or recovery of many threatened species and their reintroduction to sites where introduced predators have been suppressed or eradicated.

  • Ground-nesting seabirds like the little penguin on Victoria’s Phillip Island are now safe after 1080 enabled the eradication of foxes and in Western Australia the tammar wallaby and quenda are now locally abundant in south-western Australia due to fox control using 1080.
  • In South Australia 1080 baiting of foxes in combination with shooting of feral goats has increased populations of threatened yellow-footed rock wallabies.
  • Fox baiting and control of cats in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park enabled the successful reintroduction of western quolls and brushtail possums in 2014.

“If the use of 1080 to control and eradicate destructive environmental pests such as feral cats and foxes was banned before a viable alternative was found it would be a major setback to conservation programs and could push many threatened species into extinction,” Mr Cox said.

The report finds it highly likely that 1080-poisoned animals suffer pain and distress before they become unconscious, but a ban on 1080 without an effective replacement would result in greater suffering of animals in Australia and see declines in native species.

“Australia has global obligations, legal and moral, to prevent extinctions and recover threatened species, and until we find a replacement 1080 is a vital part of the tool kit to protecting our native species,” Mr Cox said.

The report recognises the welfare problems caused by the use of 1080 and recommends the development of replacements that are effective and more humane be a high priority. The report focuses only on the use of 1080 for protecting rare native wildlife, and not for farming or forestry.

The Invasive Species Council does not support the use of 1080 to target native animals.

Key recommendations

  • Develop and deploy more-humane and effective ways of controlling harmful introduced animals.
  • Design long-term control programs that minimise the overall number of introduced animals killed – for example, by eradicating or substantially suppressing their populations or by intervening ecologically to help native animals withstand invasive pressures (for example, by protecting dingoes where they suppress cats and foxes).
  • Improve monitoring to ascertain whether 1080 baiting (and other methods) achieve conservation goals and are cost effective.
  • Strive to better understand (where feasible) the welfare consequences of 1080 baiting, particularly for herbivores.
  • Strengthen biosecurity prevention, eradication and containment to stop the establishment and spread of new introduced species, and therefore greater use of 1080.

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