Dealing with Dead Birds
Collection of appropriate samples is a key part of accurately determining cause of death
where 1080 is suspected. Birds should, where possible, be frozen and sent whole. If the
carcass is deteriorating quickly then it should be dissected and the appropriate tissues
removed and placed separately in bags or specimen containers before freezing. Instructions
for the latter option are provided below.
Sodium fluoroacetate (1080) is a very water soluble compound and rapidly passes through
the body. It is at its highest concentration in blood and stomach contents soon after
poisoning. After death, muscle is the best tissue to take, along with stomach contents. The
liver and kidneys do not normally retain large amounts of 1080, so are therefore not
appropriate tissues to sample.
Sample Types and Quantities
Care must always be taken to ensure that samples are not contaminated by other tissues or by
pesticide-contaminated surroundings during collection and storage. Always ensure that
dissecting equipment is thoroughly cleaned between samples.
These are taken by dissecting the abdominal cavity and removing the complete stomach
intact. For birds the whole stomach can be collected.
Muscle is best taken from the breast of birds. When collecting muscle samples avoid tough
sinew and other materials that will be difficult to homogenise in the laboratory. A minimum
of 10 g of sample should be provided, though 50 g is preferred. If the birds are small (smaller
than ruru) then the whole animals should be collected and sent for analysis regardless of state.
Under The Official Information Act
Storage and Transport
Sample packaging and storage
Use the snap-top plastic bags provided for packaging muscle, stomachs and whole birds, but
take care to seal the bags properly to prevent leaking. Each sample must be placed in its
own bag and not mixed with other samples
Each sample should be labelled externally
with as much information as necessary to fully
identify the sample on the test report. Clear labelling with the provided waterproof pen is
essential as the freezing/thawing process tends to obliterate markings. Please use the
provided adhesive labels, rather than relying on marking the plastic bag directly. Pencil,
though waterproof, is not easy to read in some circumstances and should be avoided.
Please record the following on the specimen label:
• Name of person who collected sample
• Species name
• Animal ID (band number/name)
• Type of sample (muscle tissue/stomach)
• Date located
• General location (e.g. Coastal Waitutu, Slaughter Burn, Crombie, Poteriteri)
• Grid Reference
• Photos taken (yes/no)
Samples should be frozen to below –10°C as soon as possible after collection, and preferably
within 8 hours. A chilly-bin packed with ice will be provided for temporary storage to those
based at Poteriteri, Crombie and Waitutu Huts until the samples can be removed for longer-
term storage. Sample Analysis
Frozen samples and/or whole birds should be couriered to s9(2)(a) at Toxicology
Laboratory, Landcare Research (Lincoln) for analysis. Before sending samples please
contact s9(2)(a) and warn her that samples are on their way and that they need to be tested for
1080. s9(2)(a) can be contacted at
or by email
The address samples are to be couriered to is:
Individual tissue samples or whole birds should be transported to the testing laboratory in an
insulated pack such as a chilly bin. Alternatively, samples well wrapped in insulating
material or layers of newspaper and packed in a cardboard carton will suffice. Samples may
be quite small and will thaw out rapidly in transit. To prevent this they should be placed in
contact with freezer packs or plastic soft-drink bottles filled with water and frozen, before
Samples should be sent by courier door-to-door early in the week to avoid the possibility of
thawing over the weekend. They should be marked “Urgent tissue samples - please keep
No special declaration is required for samples sent from within New Zealand.
Under The Official Information Act
On receipt at the laboratory, the sample details will be entered in the laboratory sample
register and the sample placed in a freezer at –20°C to await analysis. Results
Analysis results should be forwarded to
) who will submit the results to the Vertebrate
Pesticides Residue Database (VPRD).