by Carol Sawyer
Here is a photo of a trailer load of dead creatures collected from Westport North Beach, the beach, by volunteers on Saturday, plus others [in the mosaic].
A notice appeared online yesterday: “On Behalf of DOC from the Buller District Council — There was a predator control operation in the Springs Junction area last weekend and this could have contributed to the problem (of the rats on the beach) Samples are being sent away for testing.”
The dead creatures included a goat, a crayfish, monkfish, octopuses, barracuda, starfish, skates, sole, crabs, and seabirds, as well as over 600 rats. There were also large numbers of Tuatua, still with meat in them, which is unusual. The dead marine life were all bottom feeders.
Trevor Reid knows the Coast well and says that although dead sealife washes up on the beach after a storm, the sheer numbers are very unusual.
I hope someone with no conflict of interest took samples as well as DoC who have apparently taken the crayfish for testing… it is the least likely to have died from 1080 poison as it was undersize and could have been tossed off a fishing boat.
However, although no signage went up for 24 hours, two DoC rangers turned up Saturday afternoon to help the volunteers and used a digger to make a hole in the beach to put all the dead rats in… not a very deep hole I have been told.
Trevor Reid, who took these photos, said he stopped a young guy from fishing. When he arrived at the beach there were freedom campers everywhere and a two-year-old was playing near some of the dead rats. As there were no signs he explained to the tourists, who were horrified.
Ursula Edgington has sent off an OIA request as DoC will try to downplay this.
The trailer photo is the most hard-hitting, but Stuff printed a completely innocuous photo of seagulls standing on the beach [as you would expect them to, being automatically pro-government. —Eds]
Here is last night’s Prime TV News story. Go to 5 minutes 10 secs for the beach story in which DoC are downplaying this situation:
“The Dept of Conservation thinks it’s unlikely the rats were poisoned by 1080 in a recent drop, then washed out of the hills by heavy rain. “I just can’t imagine that the two are connected”, says Mark Davies of DoC.