If you read the mainstream news you will no doubt be aware of the recent news from the South that’s gaining more momentum by the day … the 600 (possibly 1080-poisoned) rats washed up on South Island Westport beach. I’ve not reported on any of it yet so am featuring more than one of the initial articles. (The header image features a trailer load of dead rats shoveled up off the beach). Not too much mention has been made of the myriad of other marine species washed up at the same time as the rats, and the birds of course. We know those are disappearing fast thanks to 1080 given LandCare Research has admitted to 10K in one Sth Island drop. (See this post). Mainstream news however is focusing on the rats rather than the many other species. EWR
newstalkzb.co.nz reported (includes video):
Below, Carol Sawyer has reproduced the Greymouth Star’s article on it:
RATS DUMP POINTS TO 1080 POISON – 680 CARCASES ON WESTPORT BEACH
Greymouth Star, 11 November 2019, By Laura Mills
Department of Conservation staff were today patrolling Buller beaches after at least 680 rat carcases were washed up on Saturday at Westport. There were also unconfirmed reports this morning of more washing up on Waimangaroa beach, and even some further south at Punakaiki. It comes after a DOC 1080 drop inland at Maruia, where the amount of 1080 used had been increased. It is thought the poisoned rats were flushed into the river by torrential rain in the area, and eventually washed 140km down the Maruia and Buller rivers to the sea. Last week, the Greymouth Star reported a plague of rats in the Maruia Valley, with reports they were chewing wiring in tractors and people who camped at Lake Daniells were disturbed by rats running over their tent all night. The population explosion was caused by a beech mast fruiting. The discovery of stinking, rotting piles of rats on Westport North beach even made British tabloid The Mirror yesterday, complete with graphic pictures.
Photos on social media showed dead birds, a starfish, skate and octopus. Seagulls could be seen eating the carcases.
Westport rocketed up the list of the satirical website ‘Sh.t Towns of NZ ’ as the news broke, to reach No 1, with the heading ‘tides of dead rats washes up on beach in sign of impending apocalypse’. DOC Buller district operations manager Robert Dickson said this morning 680 rats had been collected so far.
Some dead fish were also found and would be autopsied, but as fish were not susceptible to 1080 poison, DOC did not expect this to be the cause of their deaths, he said. “ We have asked for urgent tests, results should be back by the end of the week. ” “ Beaches were checked yesterday and no sign of any rats, there will be a further check after high tide today.” He warned that 1080 was very toxic for dogs, so until the all-clear was given, a great deal of care should be taken to keep dogs away from carcases found on the beaches. Mr Dickson said the 1080 sowing rate at Maruia was 0.15% baits 2kg per hectare. That was increased from 1.5kg earlier this year after more rats than expected sur vived earlier drops. Westport local Daniel Case said he heard about the dead rats on Friday and on Saturday morning he went for a look at North Beach, near the Buller River mouth.
“Off the top there’s just hundreds of fish, rats, octopus, starfish … everything. ” He said the carcases spanned as far as the eye could see. “ I only went for probably a kilometre walk but when they were cleaning it up, the locals cleaning it up, they said it went the whole way down — 3-4km. The people that picked them all up and were doing the clean up, they said a couple of DOC officers helped out and disposed of them for them.” He expected more carcases to wash up for the next couple of high tides. “ We all know the 1080 is getting dropped but when you see it come on to your back doorstep it’s pretty out of control and you got to think about what ’s up in the bush and up the riverbanks and everything that ’s still to come out,” Mr Case said.“ We couldn’t have got all of it in one hit, there’s got to be a lot more coming . . . it ’s got to be disastrous up there, that ’s for sure. ” DOC Western South Island operations director Mark Davies, of Hokitika, said in a statement it was “not inconceivable” the rats could have been washed out of the hills by heavy rain that followed an aerial 1080 operation at Maruia. “ Until we know other wise, we have to presume the rats have been poisoned by 1080 and take a cautionary approach,” Mr Davies said. In the meantime, signs had been posted at Westport and the carcases buried.
Watch this space for further updates.
Photos by Trevor Reid & an anonymous photographer. Supplied by Carol Sawyer.