Poisoned parrots may create shift in New Zealand possum-control policies

One of the world's most intelligent birds is also one of its most endangered. New Zealand's kea parrot used to be a common sight in the island nation. But the kea is a voracious hunter, and has actually been known to prey upon sheep, which resulted in more than 100 years of government-sponsored bounties that nearly wiped out the species. Now, only 1,000 to 5,000 birds remain, mostly in remote mountain regions, where their food sources are being destroyed out by human development.

While New Zealand's Department of Conservation has taken many steps to preserve the kea, the need to eliminate out another creature has taken a greater priority. Invasive possums plague the country, consuming tons of native plants and bird eggs every year, and carrying bovine tuberculosis, which they spread to livestock, deer and other species.

For years now, New Zealand has used a poison called 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) to try to control the possum problem. The poison is dropped from planes, with the hope that only the possums will eat it.

If only it were that simple.

A recent test aimed to find out if 1080 was killing endangered kea. Guest what -- it was. Nearly half of a small population of birds ate the poison and died.

A draft report on the deaths concludes that the DOC should review its policies on 1080 use, especially near kea populations.

This isn't the first time that the use of 1080 has been criticized. According to a report last year from The New Zealand Herald,

"...opponents say the poison kills not only pests, but also native birds and wildlife such as kiwi... Hunters oppose 1080 because it kills deer and recreationists say it makes a mockery of New Zealand's claim to be clean, pure and green."

Australian brush-tailed possums were introduced to New Zealand in 1837 for their fur. But the species has now spread over 99% of New Zealand, and estimates say there are now 20 possums in the country for every human. Ironically, they are actually protected in their native Australia.


This is a serious issue and I'm glad it is getting some attention. I have learned a great deal about this issue and not only does this poison inhumanely kill the possum (also called Paihamu), but it inhumanely kills numerous other animals. Nixon banned this poison on US federal lands in 1972 and NZ uses 90% of the world's supply. In contrast, marketed fur is humanely killed. This is a natural fiber of world class quality. The world is searching for a sustainable natural fiber--and here it is--a marketing answer to an invasive species problem. See more information at

After 40+ years of 1080 blanket poisoning over "clean green?" New Zealand we still (according to our Dept of Conservation) have 70 million possums.
Instead, every one of these aerial applications is killing thousands of creatures, including our supposedly protected native species - A fact that anyone who dares to venture into the bush after a 1080 drop can witness.
PLUS we know this Class A male reproductive toxin (banned in most countries) is a serious threat to human health AND our once-pristine environment.
The U.S. Dept of Ag. use less than four tablespoons of pure 1080 poison per year in sheep collars. The NZ government approves the distribution of more than four tonnes of the stuff annually from helicopters.
Our meat export industries are threatened and soon our tourist industry will be too because no one will want to visit a country of trees with no wildlife.
Come on New Zealand, wake up! It's high time for the REAL TRUTH!

A NEW DOCUMENTARY on the truth about 1080 poison's use in New Zealand is currently being produced. It will shock viewers, and cause great embarrassment to those responsible for this practice.
It is annihilating native species, causing long term damage to ecosystems (some world heritage listed), causing distress among local communities - its use is based on shoddy science, absence of science and relying on mis-leading the public. More serious implications will be revealed, that will be the result of long term ignorance and propaganda. The documentary is due for release late next month.