Hundreds of dead rats stranded on a beach in New Zealand after heavy rains.
The rats were seen on the Wesport coast after 24 hours of showers.
It is thought that they may have been poisoned during an operation in 1080 – the name of the substance used in New Zealand to control populations of possums, rats, deer and rabbits.
DOC West Island's director of operations for the South Island, Mark Davies, confirmed to Stuff that there had recently been an aerial fall in 1080 at Te Maruia, in the Lewis Pass National Reserve.
The Te Maruia and Inangahua River watersheds feed on the Buller River and were plagued by toxin-treated rats a week ago, Davies said.
However, it has also been reported that fish and dead birds have gone astray on the beach, which is not in line with the way 1080 is supposed to work.
The poison operation was also located more than 140 km from North Beach, in Westport, where the rats were stranded.
"However, until we know the opposite, we must assume that the rats were poisoned by 1080 and take a cautious approach," he said.
Samples have been taken, but the results should be between 48 and 72 hours.
Davies said that about 600 carcasses of rats had been collected on about 3 km of beach and that Data Protection Department staff would check the beach after high tides for the next few days.
During this time, dog owners were warned to keep their animals off Westport while the beach was under investigation.
. (tagsToTranslate) World News (t) West Coast (t) New Zealand