In Australia introduced species wreak havoc on our natural ecosystems. Hundreds of different natives are endangered or at risk and plenty have already gone extinct, in large part because of introduced species.
One of the ways we use to combat these invasive species is through poison. Most notably one called 1080.
Common warning sign in 1080 baiting areas
What is 1080
1080, also knows as Sodium fluoracetate, is a type of poison that occurs naturally in many species of plant here in Australia.
It is consistenly touted as "our best defence against invasive species" and "environmentally safe" (because it dilutes into harmless compounds in water or is eaten by bacteria in the soil), I suppose this is true if you don't consider animals a part of the environment....
1080 is a slow killer, it requires digestion before the poison takes effect. Mammals and herbivores take the longest to die, up to 45 hours(all of which is agonisingly painful), animals like dogs and dingo's will take up to 20 hours to die, again incredibly painful the whole time.
1080 causes one of the most horrific deaths you can imagine and regardless of what government websites would have you believe, does not only target pest or invasive species but kills many native and endangered species.
1080 comes in the form of baiting which is either done by individual farmers, or aerially by the government and larger stations.
It is put into either meat or usually carrots, depending on the target species.
Carrots are usually meant for animals like rabbits but are often eaten by species like wallabies or kangaroos.
The meat is meant for dogs, foxes and feral cats but often also affects birds of prey, carnivorous marsupials like the Quoll and dingoes.
Being injected into meat baits
Secondary poisoning occurs often, mostly to predators like the Wedge-tail eagle. Animals that feed on the carcass of another animal that has died from 1080 can often lead to their own death. There have even been claims of insects carrying 1080 after feeding on the carcass of an animal that died of 1080, then infecting animals that eat insects.
It is also not uncommon for domestic pets to accidentally consume baits and while aerial baiting by the government is tracked, others are not.
Aside from this birds of prey have been known to pick up baits, then when realising it is poison, dropping it. This results in baits ending up outside of designated areas.
Where is 1080
1080 is banned in almost every country in the world, except Australia and NZ(as well as a small group of others). Most places recognise the unnecessary cruelty it inflicts upon living creatures.
In Australia it is spread in most states and can be found from the east to the west coast. Western Australia is mostly pastoral leases and as such a huge amount of the land could be poisoned. I say could because they don't make their baiting locations public and most signs and information says "Baiting is done on most stations and farms"
It is not even a very effective method of control and when it comes to things like rabbits the still somewhat cruel calicivirus or mixamatosis are strides ahead and only impact the target species.
Many organisations, groups and individuals call for the end of its use but it falls on deaf ears. It is often used as a form of crop protection and farmers and the government are far more concerned with the economical impacts rather than the ecological ones.
Unfortunately while profit comes before the planet we will probably continue to use this horrific substance.
There are claims that 1080 isn't as bad for our natives but these are grossly exaggerated. Yes our natives do have a slightly higher resistance but not in the doses that they bait at. They are able to process small amounts that occur naturally in vegetation and the food chain, not large baits of concentrated poison.
I hope one day we can move away from a kill everything form of pest control but sadly the planet is not of great concern to most people here.