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DOC calls police over 1080 threats

Native bird-saving 1080 poison is readied for a drop. Photo: Simon Horn

There’s growing concern over safety for conservation workers as activists plan to observe Anti 1080 Day on Saturday, October 8.

Dr William Rolleston, president of Federated Farmers, says anyone who supports the anti-1080 movement is validating unacceptable behaviour demonstrated by “eco-terrorists”.

DOC has confirmed that the department has had worrying threats from anti-1080 activists; some of which warranted police intervention. In a statement, DOC’s director general Lou Sanson said: “There is a small number of vocal anti-1080 protestors who have taken their beliefs a step too far. In recent weeks there have been threats of violence to my staff and contractors on social media and staff have been subject to personal abuse.

“There has been vandalism of DOC equipment and signs and attempts to interfere with pest control operations. These incidents have been reported to the Police. It’s deplorable that my staff are being subject to abuse and threats for doing their jobs to protect our precious wildlife and forests.

“But while this is disappointing behaviour from a few, there are many other New Zealanders helping to protect our iconic native species. I thank you for your efforts and support for my staff.”

Rolleston described the threats as “unacceptable”. “Everyone has the right to protest, but if those protests validate that sort of behaviour – which New Zealanders really don’t tolerate – then I think people should think twice about going on any of these protests.”

Rolleston has suggested that the following day, Sunday October 9, be ‘Pro 1080 Day’ to show support for the predator control strategy, which he said has been paramount for eradicating pests and controlling tuberculosis in agriculture.

Possums are the main source and carrier of bovine TB, responsible for more than 70 per cent of new infections in cattle and deer herds, according to a fact sheet compiled by Federated Farmers and Forest & Bird.

Rolleston said a Pro 1080 Day would show support for DOC workers and send a strong message to Saturday’s protesters.

“This isn’t a game of numbers. This is something to make people think differently about the whole issue of 1080 and the benefit that it actually provides to both the conservation estate and to agriculture, in terms of keeping possum numbers down, and therefore the instances of tuberculosis,” Rolleston said.

“Some people call them eco-terrorists, but we don’t see them as having anything to do with the environment. Many of them have some fundamentalist view of the issue, and are not actually listening to the facts. The facts are that 1080 has made a huge difference to our bird populations and a huge difference to the instances of tuberculosis on New Zealand farms. And that is a good thing for New Zealand.”