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DOC's efforts close to paying off

Saturday 26 Mar 2011 5:56 p.m.

By Adam Hollingworth

The rat didn't stand a chance. The Department of Conservation put stickers on its back for competitors to grab and win spot prizes, and there was no respite for real-life rodents.

Runners and riders in an Auckland sports event went through some unusually stringent checks today.

Conservation officials had rat dogs checking competitors heading to the event on Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands.

Dogs were screening for them at the ferry terminal.

Cyclists dropped off their bikes early for washing and disinfecting.

DOC began its eradication programme on the islands two years ago and is on track to declaring them pest free this winter.

Then they'll be able to introduce endangered species like kiwi.

Competitors appreciate the unique opportunity to cycle round the islands.

Today’s event almost didn't take place. When the ferry with the bikes was coming over yesterday it was too windy to dock at the wharf. Organisers had to take the bikes to the other side of the island and truck them back.

It's the third year the event has taken place. And judging by its popularity it's here to stay, unlike the rats.

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