In an alarming and horrifying case of Westport, the beaches of Westport are being observed after more than 600 rats washed up on to the shore.
Remains have been sent for examination as the Department of Conservation is trying to identifying the reasons to find out why it occurred.
Spokesperson Mark Davies is bewildered, saying it is not usual.
“We have put – with support of the Buller District Council – signage up on the beach, for people who are taking their dogs. Nobody wants their dog eating a half-decomposed rat.”
Davies says it is not impossible that the rats could have wiped out of the hills by massive rain after a 1080 poison procedure 140km away.
Examinations are being done.
Davies says the discovery was made by a member of the public who witnessed some rats at high tide.
“They’d obviously been in the water a couple of days and they were starting to decompose. It’s not a pleasant sight and needed cleaning up. We need to find out what’s caused it.”
Davies doesn’t think 1080, a questionable poison used in pest control, is the reason because reports of dead fish and birds – along with the rats – are not consistent with the way 1080 is understood to work.
“We’re sending off dead carcasses to get autopsies and toxicology (tests) on them, so we’ll find out what actually causes this – but it will take a few days.”
Locals are being warned to keep their dogs off the beaches.