Ospri pre-empts protest at office over possum control

Ospri closed its Dunedin office yesterday out of concern for the safety of its staff after learning a protest was planned outside its building.

Sawyers Bay landowner Adrian Black blocked the animal disease management agency from carrying out possum control on his property earlier this week.

Mr Black said his meeting with Ospri staff yesterday afternoon was cancelled.

He was not involved in the planned protest and he did not know if it took place, he said.

But the meeting allegedly sparked the planned protest among activists who were at his property on Monday.

With its office closed, Ospri could not confirm whether a protest took place either.

Ospri lower South Island service delivery manager Vivienne Larsen said the company learnt, through a social media post, that a protest was planned for outside Ospri’s Dunedin office on Friday.

‘‘We took the decision to close the office on Friday as we were concerned about the safety and welfare of our Dunedin staff,’’ she said.

The proposed Ospri operation on Mr Black’s Mt Cargill property was a part of the company’s programme to eradicate Tb in cattle by 2026.

Mr Black said one of the main reasons he took issue with Ospri’s Tb programme was because two endangered kaka died near his property in 2019.

They had ingested brodifacoum, an anticoagulant meant for possums, he said.

Ospri senior policy advisor Nick Hancox said no poisons would be used on Mr Black’s property.

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