Mr T. Benseman
Via: [FYI request #11871 email]
26 May 2020
Dear Mr Benseman
Thank you for your email of 12 December 2019, to the Prime Minister. The following parts of
your email have been referred to me for response in my capacity as Associate Minister for
1) Has there been any thoughts or actions by you into reducing the two major
- petrochemical urea and sodium fluoroacetate, which has the rather
disgusting habit of littering our rivers with dead rotting animals and is also
very cruel, taking up to 120 hours to kill pigs, during which time they vomit
13.6 times on average before death. Native Kea, thankfully, only take 30 hours
to die from the same substance.
2) And regarding ''piloting alternatives to1080" which you also signed up to in the
agreement, what have you actually done with this?
Your request has been treated as a request for information under the Official Information Act
I have interpreted ‘petrochemical urea’ to mean urea fertiliser. As a substance with corrosive,
ecotoxic, and explosive properties, it is subject to the standard controls (rules) set on such
substances by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to protect human health and
the environment. In terms of actions to reduce the use of urea fertiliser, I am refusing your
request under Section 18(e) of the Act, that the information requested does not exist. I
suggest that you contact the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), as they may have
information about the use of urea in New Zealand. MPI can be contacted at [email address].
I note your comments about animal carcasses polluting waterways. The EPA is responsible
for setting controls over the use of 1080 and monitoring the results of 1080 operations. The
controls on the use of 1080 require operators to report on incidents which involve 1080.
The EPA has informed me that they are not aware of any incidents of rivers being
contaminated with animal carcasses following 1080 operations. You may want to contact
your regional council for information about water contamination.
The amount of 1080 used to treat forests in aerial operations has been steadily declining,
and New Zealand is now using around 30 times less per hectare compared to fifty years
ago. The EPA also keeps abreast of a large and growing body of research into developing
alternatives to 1080 and into using 1080 more efficiently.
Some of the research into developing alternatives to 1080 and into using 1080 more
efficiently has involved trials and pilot studies. You can find out more about these in the
EPA’s annual reports on aerial 1080 operations, at https://www.epa.govt.nz/resources-and-
(click on the ‘All categories’ menu, and
select ‘EPA Annual report on aerial 1080 operations’). You may also be interested to know
that the 2018 Annual Report includes a summary of research undertaken in 2018, and a
summary of all relevant research undertaken since 2007. This report can be found on the
EPA’s website at EPA-annual-report-on-aerial-1080-operations-2018.
I trust that this publicly available information addresses part two of your query (on piloting
alternatives to 1080); as such I am refusing your request under Section 18(d) of the Act, that
it is publicly available.
I acknowledge your concerns about the importance of minimising the suffering of animals
when pest control measures are used. Research has shown that 1080 is more humane than
first generation anticoagulants, which are considered to be slow and painful killers, and
vertebrate toxic agents (VTAs) can cause significantly more suffering.
Many of the controls on the use of 1080 are aimed at limiting by-kill of non-target species
such as pigs and kea. Serious cases of by-kill such as those that occurred with native birds
in the 1970s are now rare. You can find out more about the positive impact of 1080 on kea
populations on the Department of Conservation’s website at: https://www.doc.govt.nz/our-
You have the right to seek an investigation and review of this decision by the Ombudsman.
You can contact the Ombudsman on 0800 802 602, or by email at [email address].
I hope that this addresses your concerns. If you have any further queries about hazardous
substances, please do not hesitate to contact the EPA via [email address].
Hon Eugenie Sage
Associate Minister for the Environment