Feed them 1080, that’ll do it

Boing Boing

On Boing Boing there is a post about how you apparently can’t poison a possum. Which of course is rubbish…we here in New Zealand have got poisoning possums down to a fine and lethal art…they might be immune to snake venom but 1080 knocks them down in their millions:

The common American opossum produces a protein called Lethal Toxin-Neutralizing Factor (LTNF). This protein does pretty much what the name implies—seeking out potentially deadly poisons and neutralizing them. The benefit: Opossums are all-but immune to the venom of poisonous snakes. (Including the venom of snakes native to continents where the common American opossum does not live.) But it gets weirder, as Jason Bittel explains on the BittelMeThis blog:

So they took some rats and injected them with LTNF, then pumped them full of otherwise lethal doses of venom from Thailand cobras, Australian taipans, Brazilian rattlesnakes, scorpions and honeybees. But the rats just laughed in their faces.

“Dude,” said one scientist, “we have to kill these rats. Do you watch AMC’s Breaking Bad?” The other scientists nodded of course because everybody watches Breaking Bad. So next they tried to kill the rats with ricin, an extremely lethal poison made from castor beans. (How lethal? Just ask Georgi Markov, the real-life Bulgarian defector killed by a ricin umbrella gun. That’s right, I said ricin umbrella gun.)

Alas, the ricin was a no-go. The now-snooty rats danced Ring Around the Rosie.

“That’s it!” screeched the lead scientist. “It’s time to release the botulinum toxin. Surely this will conquer the awkward opossum’s super serum!” But after many maniacal laughs and a few bolts of lightning, the rats were still alive.

(The paper does not mention what became of the super rats. I can only assume they went on to write “The Secret of Nimh” while the evil scientists lost their rat-killing grant.)


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  • Allanspear

    They are not allowed to use 1080 in the US. They manufacture it there for foreign use only. As far as I know, very few countries still use it.

    • le sphincter

      Wrong , its used to kill coyotes and has restricted use since 1985

      • Allanspear

        You are right, but “In the USA, 1080 use is restricted to a livestock collar to protect livestock such as sheep and goats from coyotes. (Coyotes attack livestock around the throat and bite on a lethal dose of 1080 contained in the collar.)” (from Department of Conservation). Hardly comparable to how we use it here!

      • Right Man Syndrome

         Hey wrinkled one , what does RSPCA stand for again ?  ha ha ha !

      • TravisPoulson

        Right Man Syndrome: do you actually have a point? or was that it?

  • Victor Charlie

    The truth is that 1080 is the best and most effective agent for possums. It has taken possum numbers from a peak population from 60mil down to 30mil. Alternatives such as second generation anti-coagulants like brodifiacoum are signficiantlt worse environmentally. As a keen deer hunter folks might think I would be opposed to 1080; but I say the more this stuff we can drop the better.

    • le sphincter

      Its not perfect , but the benefits of mostly getting rid of possums seem to outweigh a few disadvantages

    • I want them to add deer repellant…1080 comes in three strengths and you’ll never guess what strength they use…only. That’s right deer strength…so a side effect for DOC of carpet bombing forests and killing possums they also get Deer…which they will never admit to but want gone as well because DOC and the greenie wankers that infest them want nothing but birds and trees in the forests.

      • Victor Charlie

         Indeed, I agree. But in some cases deer need to be eliminated as hunters never get in to some country as it’s too tough and deer smash the place. Adding deer repellant adds about 25%-30% to the cost of a 1080 drop; but if it’s an area that can and is hunted (thereby keeping the deer at manageable numbers), then it’s an acceptable cost that could possibly be offset in other ways.

      • Neil

        Weren’t deer originally imported for the gentry to go hunting for – and the reason thry’re now a bloody pest is there’s too many of them ruining our native species habitats – hunters like you and your’s aren’t bagging enough of them Cam…erm maybe you need to get out there more…?

  • Neil

    A bit of natural selection going on here? Maybe our Aussie imports will gain immunity over time too then what do we do?  We should have started a trap and send them back to OZ policy years ago…..

  • Guest

    Considering the the scale of the possum problem here in NZ I’ve never understood why there aren’t more possum fur related products available here.  It seems the only places you see it is the tourist or speciality shops, but can’t help but remember seeing a possum fur teddy bear during the mid 90’s for sale at $500.

    • Neil

      Probably why there isn’t any more selling – what an outrageous price!!

    • TravisPoulson

      Most of is blended with merino and exported to Japan.

      • Japan is cheaper than NZ

        Japan is cheaper than NZ across the board , except fuel . Example , full suit , shirt , shoes , socks under $200 kiwi , all day bus ticket $7.50 , any meal $7 and up , 2 liter water $1.70 .

      • TravisPoulson

        Furudoguya: except we’re not talking about fuel, shirt, socks, meals etc. We’re talking about a product that is unique to NZ that we export to Japan for good money, as I have already stated. This is why hand plucked possum fur is worth $125 per kilo.

  • Wapjap

    Good newspaper report on the significant decline of Kea in the South Island.  Guess what is killing them, so they are now starting to add bird repellent to 1080.  If Kea are being wiped out what other native species are getting hammered?  When will the idiots at DOC learn that you cannot “manage” nature on a grand scale. 

    • TravisPoulson

      You stated then problem, followed by the solution, still not happy? 

      “When will the idiots at DOC learn that you cannot “manage” nature on a grand scale.”

      What is your expertise to make such a statement? 

  • LinkinHawk

    when i saw the title i thought Whale was talking about those money hungry maoris.

  • Mediaan

    Give the unemployed a possum zone and pay them per possum.

    Could even cure their drug habit, their gambling habit, and their obesity (oh, wash my mouth out… I mentioned it again.)

    There is no reasonable excuse for dropping 1080 if it is to kill possums. (But, as with so many things, of course it isn’t – the most likely motive is to prevent forest-dwelling guerrilla forces forming. And that is also why we don’t despatch the shiftless to possum hunting duties, probably.)

    • TravisPoulson

      There is no reasonable excuse for dropping 1080 if it is to kill possums.”

      Yes there is, and that is it. You’re  bit out of your depth on this subject, sorry. 

    • kehua

      You are really ignorant about both the monkeys in the bush and the monkeys on the dole. In fact I would consider that both these parasites are more intelligent than you, dumass.

      • TravisPoulson

        kehua I agree to your first sentence, second sentence is a little harsh. He’s not dumb as I have observed in other posts, in this instance just happens to be commenting on something he is not so schooled up on, has little/no experience with. 

      • Furudoguya

        Ford , can you deal with this one ?

  • Penny

    American opossums (Didelphis virginiana) are a completely different species to the Australian possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). That might explain it.

  • Penny

    American opossums (Didelphis virginiana) are a completely different species to the Australian possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). That might explain it.