1080 drop prompts animal warning

RACHAEL KELLY
Last updated 05:00 28/08/2014

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Holiday-makers planning on camping at Piano Flat in Northern Southland at Christmas should leave their best friends behind.

DOC dropped cereal baits laced with 1080 in the 10,500-hectare Waikaia Forest surrounding the conservation campsite yesterday and a four-month-long caution period is now in place.

DOC biosecurity ranger Colin Bishop said the baits should be "well broken down" by Christmas but dogs could still find carcasses of animals that had been killed by eating the poison and ingest it themselves. "I wouldn't bring my dog but I would absolutely camp here," Bishop said.

"Until the caution period is lifted you still need to be cautious with dogs and children."

The caution period, which meant no wild animal recovery workers or hunters should operate in the area, ran for a minimum of four months but could be extended.

Signs had been put up to advise the public that a 1080 drop had been carried out in the area, he said.

"The caution period will be still on at Christmas but the signs will still be up."

DOC staff would walk all tracks in the area within 24 hours of the drop looking for stray baits and would repeat the process "after there's been a bit of wind" in case any baits had been caught in trees, he said.

Monitoring during the caution period would be carried out by DOC staff who put freshly dead possums and baits in cages at different altitudes throughout the forest to monitor their breakdown.

"They're cereal baits so the more moisture we get the quicker we get breakdown," he said.

Bishop encouraged people to still use the area at Christmastime.

"It's an area of high public use and that's a great thing because the public will be able to see the benefits of it [the 1080 drop], especially the increase in bird numbers."

Outspoken Piano Flat crib owner Morris Smith did not protest against the 1080 drop yesterday because "there's really not much point".

"It was inevitable because they were always going to get their own way.

"I still don't agree with it, it's an insidious poison."

Smith held a public meeting last month and circulated a petition, which attracted "several hundred" signatures, in an attempt to get the 1080 drop stopped.

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- The Southland Times

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