Police say the arrest of a 65-year-old man charged after threatening DOC staff sends a clear message to those who are issuing threats related to 1080.
The man was arrested in New Plymouth yesterday following a 14 month investigation relating to four threatening letters sent to DOC relating to the use of 1080.
Central District crime manager detective inspector Ross McKay said threats to DOC staff were unacceptable.
“DOC staff should be able to go about their lawful business without the fear of threats and intimidation,” McKay said. “We take very seriously any threats of this nature.”
DOC director general Lou Sanson welcomed the arrest and said the letters were “extremely nasty”.
“It is completely unacceptable for anyone to threaten or intimidate DOC staff,” Sanson said.
“This case demonstrates that action will be taken when any criminal offending occurs.
“DOC staff need to be able to get on with their job of protecting conservation areas without fear of being harmed or harassed.”
The man will appear in the New Plymouth District Court tomorrow.
The arrest comes after it was revealed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received death threats relating to the government’s use of 1080 poison. DOC has also reported a steep rise in threats to staff from anti-1080 extremists with 93 incidents reported last month.
Threats have included signs and billboards posted with messages such as “blood will flow” and a post on DOC’s Facebook page which said: “If my daughter is effect by 1080 poison due to it being tossed into our water supply, I myself will find each of you DOC muppets and slaughter the skin off your faces and have you living inches before death”.
It has been revealed that two DOC staff killed in a helicopter crash in Wanaka last month had also been threatened.
DOC rangers Scott Theobald and Paul Hondelink were flying out to begin a tahr culling mission when the helicopter crashed shortly after take-off, killing them both along with pilot Nick Wallis.
Conservation Authority chair Kerry Prendergast said the pair had been abused by people opposed to the tahr control operation in the preceding weeks.
“Everyone involved in conservation is still mourning the loss of Hondy and Scotty, who were both subjected to abusive calls to their home addresses and on social media over this issue,” Prendergast said.