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DOC offices targeted in protests

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/10/2016

Farmers are condemning protests planned outside Department of Conservation offices to oppose the use of 1080 poison to control pests and are organising a pro-1080 response.

Protests will be held around the country at DOC offices on Saturday as part of National anti-1080 day.

Organisers say "New Zealand is being blitzed" by aerial drops of the poison and animals are dying in agony.

Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston says the activists on this issue are out of control and he fears for the safety of DOC staff and contractors.

"These people, are so called 'eco-terrorists' but there's no 'eco' involved at all. Just terror. This is madness and it's activism out of control," Dr Rolleston said.

Federated Farmers are proposing a counter move on Sunday.

"We suggest people celebrate 'Pro-1080 Day' by pulling on their possum fur-lined boots and getting out into some of country's great open spaces, to enjoy our magnificent trees and priceless bird song.

"At the moment, 1080 is one of the best tools we have for preservation. DOC can be trusted to use it in the best possible way and they should be left alone to get on with their jobs."

Earlier this month DOC said there had been a number of incidents of intimidation of staff during the past few weeks as part of attempts to disrupt aerial operations on the West Coast and in Fiordland.

Director-general Lou Sanson said people had the right to lawful protest, but abusing and threatening workers protecting New Zealand's wildlife and forests was "deplorable".

Mr Sanson said the protests would not stop the department from completing its Battle for Our Birds programme to protect vulnerable native species like kiwi, kaka, kea and whio from predators.

He said scientific monitoring had shown that at-risk birds and bats benefited from aerial 1080 pest control of rats, stoats and possums.

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