1080 warning after dog dies
By COLIN WILLIAMS – Upper Hutt Leader
The death of a family dog from 1080 poisoning after eating a possum carcass on the Hutt River near Totara Park has highlighted that owners need to treat the river trail – one of the city’s popular recreational spots – as a “no go area” for up to two months.
The two-year-old cross-breed dog endured a painful death early last Wednesday after it partially ate a possum the previous morning.
The possum would have been brought down the river after heavy rain following the recent massive 1080 poison aerial drop north of the city three weeks earlier.
The dog, which soon developed obvious neurological symptoms, was taken to an Upper Hutt veterinary clinic on
Tuesday and treated before a transfer to the Wellington 24-hour vet clinic where it died the next morning.
The dog’s poisoning came the morning after the high risk of the poisoned carcasses was announced by the Wellington Regional Council and 250 warning signs at access points to the river and beaches from Te Marua to south of Eastbourne were put up.
Regional council workers went into emergency response in starting a search of the banks of the Hutt River, and the beaches, for carcasses (which present no risk, through handling, to humans).
“While the river was too high to search we concentrated on the beaches and then re-checked them daily after the high tide,” regional council senior biosecurity officer Ray Clarey says.
“On September 1 the river had receded so we had three teams working, one from Totara Park north, one from Totara Park south and one from Petone north.
“The river took two days to search and we rechecked it daily as the water level fell,” Mr Clarey says.
One carcass found opposite Trentham Memorial Park, on the highway side of the river on Tuesday, had been partially eaten and is thought to be the remains of the possum partially eaten, further up the river, by the now dead dog.
Four possum bodies were found on the beaches between Petone and Eastbourne and four on the riverbed including two in Upper Hutt near Moonshine Bridge.
Tissue samples from all the possums will be sent away for testing, Mr Clarey says.
The council will continue their organised searches until water levels return to normal, council spokesman Jim Flack says.
“It is common for feral animals and livestock to wash down rivers during heavy rain,” Mr Clarey says.
“With the recent 1080 possum control operation north of Upper Hutt, people should treat all possum carcasses as potentially poisonous, particularly dog owners.
“Please keep your dogs on a lead when using these areas, until the warning signs have been taken down,” Mr Clarey says.
“A decaying possum is a tasty morsel for a dog, no matter how well fed it is. If that possum has been poisoned by 1080, it will poison the dog.”
If dogs have contact with any possum carcasses they should be induced to vomit and immediately taken to a vet, he says.
Well being a dog owner this makes me sad, very sad.
But like last weeks message around pets being poisoned due to possum control, the city councils are in an invidious situation. They need to control this pest for the TB problem it presents to farm stock as well as for forest conservation. Possum numbers are huge in NZ, and especially around the Hutt Valley given its dedicated areas of forestry belts.
For years we have cried out for a alternative to 1080 and its consequences, in fact I think NZ is one of only a few countries still using it. But the problem lies in how to find something that is just as effective. I even think there is research been undertaken in labs to find some form of regressive gene or something I remember to stifle population growth. Unfortunately the knock on effect of posionings is still unpalatable to large numbers of Nzers, given the results of the above, and the impact on bird numbers too.
Please pay heed to warnings, keep your dogs on a leash, err on the side of caution and pray some boffin finds an alternatve to 1080 soon.