1080: A Weighty Ethical Issue

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This report, 1080: A Weighty Ethical Issue, looks at the the ethical considerations of using 1080 to control feral animals in Australia and finds that the conservation benefits to native species necessitates its use until an alternative is available.

Sodium fluroacetate, known as 1080, is a poison used in lethal baiting programs throughout Australia to protect rare native species from foxes, cats, pigs and rabbits.

Our report shows that available evidence and assessments by welfare experts indicate that, while 1080 likely causes suffering and distress in poisoned animals, a ban on 1080 without an effective replacement would overall result in greater suffering and declines in native species.

The report’s findings include:

  • The use of 1080 has been essential in enabling the survival and recovery of many threatened species in Australia.
  • The use of 1080 to suppress or eradicate introduced predators such as feral cats and foxes has allowed the reintroduction of threatened species into the wild, particularly on islands and in fenced reserves.
  • A ban on 1080 without an effective replacement would result in a decline in native Australian species and an overall increase in animal suffering.

The Invasive Species Council concludes that an ethical approach to the welfare problems of 1080 requires the following:

  • Prioritise the search for effective and more-humane replacements for 1080.
  • Design long-term control programs that minimise the overall extent of killing of introduced animals.
  • Improve monitoring to ascertain whether 1080 baiting (and other methods) achieve conservation goals and are cost effective – it is unethical to kill animals if no conservation benefit is achieved and wrong to waste scarce conservation funds.
  • Strive to better understand (where feasible) the welfare consequences of 1080.
  • Strengthen biosecurity prevention, eradication and containment to stop the establishment and spread of new introduced species.

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Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area is under threat from deer. The Tasmanian Government knows deer are invading this global treasure but is doing nothing about it.