The truth about 1080
Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) is a very useful pesticide for the
control of declared pest animals and has been used throughout
Australia since the early 1960s.
1080 is the most efficient, humane and species-specific
pesticide currently available for declared pest animal control
in Australia. In Queensland, 1080 is registered for use in the
control of wild dogs, feral pigs, foxes and rabbits.
1080 is widely used in Australia to protect agricultural
production and native flora and fauna from the impacts of pest
animals. The use of 1080 in some conservation areas allows the
continued survival of rare and threatened wildlife and assists
in the reintroduction of species into areas where they have
previously been locally extinct.
If 1080 were not available for use to control vertebrate pests,
many less specific and less humane products may be used in an
Some of the properties of 1080 include:
• Fluoroacetate occurs naturally in about 35 species of
Australian plants, such as Acacia georginae (gidgee),
Gastrolobium spp. (heart leaf poison bush) and Oxylobium
spp. (box poison bush). Consequently, native animal
species are generally less susceptible to fluoroacetate than
• 1080 is water-soluble and is readily broken down by
naturally occurring bacteria and fungi. It therefore does not
cause a build-up of toxic residues in soil, water or plants, nor
does it bioaccumulate in organisms.
• Fluoroacetate can be found in minute quantities in such
common substances as guar gum and tea.
The risk of using any pesticide can be expressed by
Risk = hazard (toxicity) x exposure
The aim is to minimise the risk to non-targets. In order to
achieve this, both the hazard (toxicity) and the exposure need
to be minimised.
To minimise toxicity, the most target-specific toxin should be
selected. Of the current toxins available, 1080 is the most
target-specific pesticide for controlling introduced pest species
To minimise exposure, the following steps can be taken:
• Bury or secure baits.
• Mark the position of baits so that uneaten baits can be
collected and destroyed at the end of a poisoning program.
• Use baits of particular size and material that attract, and will
be consumed by, only the target species.
• Use only as much bait as necessary.
• Use an appropriate dose rate.
• Lay baits for the shortest possible time.
• Place the baits where access is limited or restricted to the
• Time baiting so as to lessen exposure to other potentially
Availability of 1080
1080 can only be supplied by people approved under the
Health (Drugs & Poisons) Regulation 1996 for the purpose of
controlling declared pest animals.
At present only officers employed by Biosecurity Queensland
and local government who have undertaken practical and
written examinations and received approval from Queensland
Health are approved to prepare 1080 baits. All 1080 operators
must be retrained every two years.
Guidelines for use
The use of 1080 is subject to strict regulatory control set down
in the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996, which is
administered by Queensland Health. The following is a summary
of the guidelines for its use:
• Baits are to be used for no other purpose whatsoever
other than for the destruction of wild dogs, feral pigs,
foxes and rabbits.
• All baits are to be laid on the land described in the
agreement for provision of baits only.
• No baits are to be laid on any stock route or reserve for
travelling stock without local government approval.
• No baits are to be laid within 5 m of a fenced boundary.
• No baits are to be laid within 50 m of a centre line of a
• No baits are to be laid within 20 m of permanent or flowing
• Owners may only lay baits within 1 km of any habitation
(habitation includes schools, dwellings and public facilities, but does not include the dwelling of the person laying the baits) if they first seek written agreement from all habitation occupiers within 1 km of the bait site.
• Owners may only lay baits within 2 km of any habitation (habitation includes schools, dwellings and public facilities, but does not include the dwelling of the person laying the baits) after they provide written notification to all habitation occupiers within 2 km of the bait site.
• No baits are to be laid within 5 km of a town without biosecurity officer approval.
• Owners must give at least 72 hours notification to all neighbours whose property boundary falls within 2 km of the bait site and any property having frontage to the holding where baits are to be laid.
• Warning signs must be placed at all entrances to the property and at the extremities of the property boundaries fronting a public thoroughfare. Warning signs must be erected immediately before baiting and left in place for one month after the baits have been laid.
Wild game harvesters should also be notified of baits being laid for at least 28 days after the program as they are required to declare that they have not removed feral pigs from areas where baiting has occurred.
Selectivity of 1080
There is considerable variation in susceptibility between species of animals. Dogs and foxes are the most susceptible of all animals to 1080. In general, birds show considerably more resistance than mammals. Cold-blooded animals such as reptiles and fish are the most resistant.
Here are some interesting examples of calculations detailing the risks to humans and wildlife:
• One of the risks of 1080 use is the leaching of the 1080 from the impregnated baits due to rainfall. If an area were heavily poisoned using 8 kg of 6 mg wild dog baits per hectare (containing 48 mg of 1080 per kg of bait), and all of this was leached out due to 50 mm of rain, an individual person would need to drink 169 271 L of contaminated water before receiving a lethal dose.
• If a hunter shot a 60 kg feral pig that was in the latent period following ingestion of 3 kg of 1080 bait (at a rate of 1152 mg 1080/kg), and based on the unlikely assumption that half the ingested poison has become evenly distributed through the carcass, that hunter would need to eat 36.1 kg in one sitting before being at risk.
Common myths about 1080
"1080 kills everything-native animals as well as
Australia's native mammals, birds and reptiles have developed much higher tolerance to 1080 than introduced animals, due to their evolution with naturally occurring 1080 in some native plants. The dose rates used in declared pest animal control, coupled with responsible baiting practices, mean that the chances of killing native animals are minimised.
If non-target animals are suspected of dying as a result of a 1080 baiting program, your local Biosecurity Queensland office should be contacted so that it can be properly investigated and, where possible, the appropriate tests undertaken.
"1080 kills only domestic dogs, it doesn't kill wild dogs."
All canines (wild dogs, domestic dogs and foxes) are equally susceptible to 1080 poison. This is why it is important that domestic dogs are restrained when baiting programs are being carried out.
"1080 builds up in the soil and in waterways."
Naturally occurring bacteria and fungi found in soil, water and bait materials readily break down 1080. It therefore does not cause a build-up of toxic residues in soil, water or plants. 1080's persistence in the environment depends on rainfall, temperature and amount of bacteria present.
"What if a pest animal is poisoned with 1080 and another animal eats it? Will it affect the second animal?"
This depends on the dose used for the first animal, the tolerance of the second animal, the amount the animal has consumed, what part of the animal is consumed (the stomach contents will contain more 1080 than other organs and flesh), and how long the dead animal has had 1080 in its system. Unlike some poisons, 1080 does not accumulate in the food chain nor does it keep on killing.
"Baiting just scares the pest animals away. After a few months they all come back again."
Baiting removes many of the target animals living in the baited area. After a period of time, animals from surrounding areas disperse into this vacant area. This is why it is important to reduce immigration by carrying out regular coordinated control programs over as large an area as possible.
"There is no effective treatment or antidote for 1080 poisoning in humans."
There is no specific antidote for 1080, just as there is no specific antidote for alcohol poisoning or Valium® overdosing, but a range of treatments aid recovery. As with many poisons, these treatments are effective only when used soon after ingesting the poison. Emptying the stomach can get rid of most of the poison in the early stages. Sedatives and barbiturates, as well as life support measures, have also been used to give the body time to detoxify the 1080.
Further information is available from your local government office, or by contacting Biosecurity Queensland (call 13 25 23 or visit our website at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au).