Secondary poisoning of ferrets and cats after 1080 rabbit poisoning

The incidence of secondary poisoning was determined by using radio-telemetry to assess the survival of 68 ferrets and 21 cats on two treatment sites and one control site in the dry tussock grasslands of New Zealand. The treatment sites were aerially poisoned with 1080-coated carrot baits (0.02% wt/wt) to control rabbits. The control site was not poisoned. Ferrets and cats were monitored at two-weekly intervals for at least 1 month before, and 2 months after the poison operations. Muscle samples from ferrets and cats that died within 50 days of poisoning on the treatment sites were assayed for 1080. In all, 7–11% (n = 28) of ferrets on one site and 8–15% (n = 26) of ferrets at the other site apparently died of secondary 1080 poisoning. Natural mortality rates of ferrets were 46–81% per annum. While we have evidence that secondary poisoning of cats does occur, we monitored insufficient numbers of cats to reliably estimate mortality rates.

Declines in predator numbers are commonly observed after rabbit poisoning. This study indicates that secondary poisoning contributes to these declines.

Author Heyward, R. P. and Norbury, G. L.
Year 1999
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 26
Number 1
Pages 75-80
Control method 1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate)
Region NZ