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DOC warns of 1080 risk to dogs

15 December 2006

DOC warns of 1080 risk to dogs

Dogs should be kept out of the Otaki Catchment in the western Tararua Forest Park for the next six months to avoid the risk of 1080 poisoning.

The Department of Conservation yesterday carried out an aerial possum control operation over the 9000ha area, which should boost the number of birds in this part of the forest.

The area targeted this year includes for the first time a 4000 ha biodiversity zone which will be treated by the aerial application of 1080 every three years in spring/early summer, protecting native birds during the crucial breeding and nesting period.

This would enable DOC to extend protection to native birds and other fauna in the lower-altitude forests, while continuing to protect canopy trees, Kapiti Area biodiversity programme manager Colin Giddy said.

“We expect numbers of native birds such as tomtits, whiteheads, grey warblers and fantails to increase in the Otaki catchment following this operation.”

Possums and rats eat seeds, compete with native wildlife for food and prey on birds, eggs and insects. Possum browse also affects the canopy structure of forests.

Cereal pellets impregnated with the pesticide 1080 were applied over the area at a rate of about 2 kg per hectare (330 baits per hectare.) They are coloured green to discourage birds from eating them.

DOC has installed warning signs at sites where the public normally gains access to the area. There is no risk to human health providing pellets are not handled or eaten.

But dogs should not be taken into the area, to avoid the risk of 1080 poisoning by eating baits or poisoned possum carcasses which could endanger their lives.

“While baits break down quickly after rain and become non-toxic, possum carcasses will take up to six months to decompose,” Mr Giddy said.

“People should keep their dogs at home until the area is declared safe by the department.”

Children should not be allowed to wander unsupervised in the area.

And animals should not be taken from the area for eating.

Monitoring of tomtits will ascertain the success of the biodiversity zone. Possum and rat numbers will also be monitored. Rat monitoring from March to May this year revealed that 25 percent of the tracking tunnels were used by rats over one night. For forest bird recovery to occur it is suggested that rat tracking tunnel rate needs to be reduced to 10 percent or less.

ENDS

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