Mystery surrounds deaths of animals on Otago beach

Animals, Death
A number of carcasses washed up on a beach near Dunedin. Photo credit: nzedred1/Reddit

The death of several animals on an Otago beach has led to authorities checking for any tainted remains. 

Seven deer and two pigs were found dead on the beach near the settlement of Waianakarua north of Dunedin over the last week.

The local Waitaki District Council says it's been notified of the carcasses and has been in contact with Operational Solutions for Primary Industries (OSPRI) who has removed the remains.

"We've been in contact with [OSPRI] who have confirmed they're cleaning up the carcasses due to the possibility of 1080 poisoning," the council said on its Facebook page.

"Under normal circumstances we would let nature take its course and leave the animals to decompose."

OSPRI told Newshub the carcasses came from downriver from an area where TBfree pest control operations have recently taken place.

Animals, Otago
It is unclear how the animals died. Photo credit: Supplied

"These carcasses were removed by OSPRI contractors and during this activity it was noted that several animals had been shot by hunters," an OSPRI spokesman said.

"[We] will continue to check the banks of rivers and creeks flowing from the operational area for possum and other animal carcasses over the next couple days."

While the cause of the deaths are still unknown, OSPRI reminds animal owners to be careful around any carcasses killed by the poison.

"While the biodegradable toxin 1080 used for pest control dissolves in water, carcasses of animals killed by 1080 pose a threat, particularly to scavenging dogs," it says.

"Dogs are susceptible to poisoning and it's important to keep dogs clear of carcasses and away from operational areas until signs are removed."

OSPRI says following the recent floods and heavy rain in the South Island, it is in the process of checking a number of other areas including Silver Stream from the operational area to the junction of the Taieri River for any other animal carcasses.