All-clear set for dogs in Silverstream

Dogs will be allowed back in the Silverstream catchment, near Dunedin, from this Friday, 12 months after a 1080 poison drop meant they were banned from the area.

The 1080 operation by Operational Solutions for Primary Industries (Ospri) last June involved land managed by the Dunedin City Council, Department of Conservation and private owners.

It was the first such operation on council land and was carried out as part of Ospri's Tbfree-NZ programme to control and eradicate bovine Tb in possums.

It also fitted with the Government's goal of a predator-free New Zealand by 2050.

Although the operation targeted possums, it was also intended to reduce the number of rats and other predators.

Council walking tracks in the area were closed for about two weeks after the drop before being reopened to the public.

Hunting permits for the catchment were also suspended for about four months, and permits for hunting with dogs for 12 months, or until testing determined the area was safe for dogs.

''On the few occasions when dogs have come into contact with toxic baits through ingesting baits or scavenging poisoned carcasses, the outcome was usually fatal,'' Ospri said.

The caution period in the Silverstream catchment had now ended and tracks and reserves at Silverstream, Swampy Summit, Whare Flat and Evansdale Glen could be used from Friday to exercise dogs, council group parks and recreation manager Robert West said yesterday.

Many of New Zealand's native species were threatened by pests such as possums, Mr West said.

''The use of 1080 has biodiversity benefits for native bird species and gives them a better chance of survival and nesting success.''

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