Last vets to leave Waiheke after foot and mouth hoax

The last remaining veterinarians stationed on Waiheke Island since the foot and mouth scare letter was sent to Prime Minister Helen Clark two weeks ago are today expected to leave the island and return home.

Last Tuesday a second letter confirmed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and police view that the threat was a hoax.

About three veterinarians remained on Waiheke conducting visual tests of livestock for foot and mouth and discussing the prospect of compensation for farmers.

MAF spokesman Brett Sangster told NZPA today a decision would be made today on whether the vets should remain on the island.

"Given nothing's been detected in the way of foot and mouth disease symptoms on the island I would expect (they) would be stood down today."

A MAF liaison presence might be retained on the island for farmers to discuss compensation.

Stock movement restrictions had already been removed last Tuesday after the second letter.

Mr Sangster said the foot and mouth threat had at least provided a "valuable learning exercise" to test New Zealand's readiness for such a scare.


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