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Poison May Have Killed Birds January 23, 2015
New Zealand rock wren
A group of endangerd rock wrens may have been killed or driven off by an airborne drop of poison intended to kill invasive pests that threaten the birds.

New Zealand conservation groups slammed the government’s use of a pesticide, which the campaigners say may have virtually wiped out a group of endangered birds.

The Department of Conservation dropped more than 900 tons of toxic sodium fluoroacetate late last year across parts of the South Island, including Kahurangi National Park.

The pesticide, known commercially as 1080, was intended to wipe out invasive pests such as possums, stoats and rats that threaten native species.

Anti-1080 campaigners say the drop “exterminated” part of a rare population of rock wrens, which are the country’s only true alpine birds.

The Department of Conservation claims heavy snowfall could be behind the disappearance of the birds.

Environmentalists called that claim “ludicrous,” pointing out the alpine birds frequently encounter such snowfall.

"The use of 1080 is inhumane and is an indiscriminate poison banned in most of the world,” said NZ First's outdoor recreation spokesman Richard Prosser.

New Zealand is the world’s leading user of the poison.

Photo: NZ Department of Conservation