Dog owners warned after hundreds of potentially poisoned rats wash up on beaches

Dog owners are being warned to keep their pets off Westport beaches after hundreds of rats washed up there yesterday.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said they may be victims of a recent 1080 drop 140 kilometres away in the Lewis Pass National Reserve.

There is a risk dogs could be poisoned if they eat the dead rats.

DOC said they may have been washed down the Buller River in recent heavy rains and deposited on beaches near the river's mouth.

Samples of the rats have been taken and sent away for testing but DOC said results could take two to three days to come through.

Signs have been posted on Westport beaches and work is now underway to remove the dead rodents.

Westport Breakwater on the West Coast. Source: