An assessment of the probability of secondary poisoning of forest insectivores following an aerial 1080 possum control operation
- Science and Research, Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 10420, Wellington, New Zealand
- Otago Conservancy, Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 5244, Dunedin, New Zealand
Assays for the toxin sodium monofluoroacetate (compound 1080) were undertaken on arthropods collected from toxic baits after a brushtail possum (Trichosorus vulpecula) control operation in Nothofagus forest in central North Island, New Zealand. The 1080 concentrations measured (mean 57 mu g per g, max 130 mu g per g) are considerably higher than those reported by other researchers who collected arthropods randomly after control operations. These data, together with published information on sensitivities to 1080, as well as diet and consumption rates, were used to calculate the median lethal doses of arthropods that have fed on 1080 baits for a number of vertebrate insectivores found in Nothofagus forest. The results indicate small insectivores that feed on, or close to, the ground (e.g., tomtit Petroica macrocephala, robin P. australis, hedge sparrow Prunella modularis, and the short-tailed bat Mystacina tuberculata) may be vulnerable to secondary poisoning. For instance, a tomtit will receive the median lethal dose of 1080 from 1.32 g (i.e., 14.7% of its daily food intake) of arthropods containing 57 mu g per g of 1080. Because of their greater sensitivity to 1080 poisoning, bats are at much greater risk; a short-tailed bat will receive the median lethal dose of 1080 from as little as 0.04 g (0.7% of its daily food intake) of arthropods containing 57 mu g per g of 1080.