Editorial: The appalling 1080 fanatics

The threats and abuse from 1080 protesters at Department of Conservation staff are appalling. No matter how strongly these abusers feel, this can never be justified.

What is more, the behaviour besmirches the whole anti-1080 movement. Misguided as the cause is, its adherents have the right to write, march, demonstrate and try to persuade others. In a democratic society like New Zealand, they can try through civilised and proper channels to change policies and attitudes.

They do not have the right to threaten to shoot down Doc helicopters and skin the faces of staff. Or to slash tyres and loosen car wheel-nuts. So repugnant are these menaces that they should be scarcely believable.

Unfortunately, there is more. A letter was delivered to Doc's New Plymouth office with a blue substance leaking out it, and a South Island Doc worker's details were published online with comments about filling him with lead, and needing good snipers in New Zealand.

The Prime Minister, Conservation Minister and Agriculture Minister have all become targets in a fanaticism that borders on overseas terrorism.

During the past two years, Doc has spent about $780,000 on security for aerial 1080 drops. During October and November it spent another $295,000 on a co-ordinated incident management (CIM) plan in response to an increase in threats and abuse.

Add to that all the other local costs, money which should be going towards conservation itself.

One pest control company also reported its staff had been the target of many threats and of vandalism. In Northland, people had broken into its equipment and let 2000 litres of helicopter fuel out into native bush.

It was in November 2014 that Jeremy Hamish Kerr mixed highly concentrated amounts of the poison with baby milk formula and posted them to Fonterra and to Federated Farmers, with a letter demanding the country stop using 1080 or he would release poisoned infant milk powder into the Chinese market and one unspecified market.

The crime cost the country, the High Court was told, more than $37million, and Kerr was jailed for eight and a-half years in 2016.

In September, a hikoi of protesters arrived at Parliament and threw fake 1080 pellets and dumped dead birds on the steps. An organiser said: ''We wouldn't throw 1080 around and endanger the public like our government does. So we put fake 1080 on the steps, and dead bodies that have been killed, dead birds and mice that have been killed by 1080, brought here from the West Coast to present to these politicians.'' It transpired none had been killed by 1080 and one, a weka, had been shot.

There is no doubt dogs are at risk from eating carcasses after 1080 drops, and this underlies the emotion of many in the anti-1080 camp. Deer also suffer and hunters can have interests which conflict with 1080 use.

The abuse and the trouble escalated at the time of the hikoi and its related protests, although organisers always said their actions were nothing but peaceful.

What is to be done, though, about the fanatics who go far too far?

First, the police and courts have to be firm and no-nonsense with this criminality. It must not, and cannot, be tolerated.

Second, others also anti-1080 emphatically have to give no support to the threats and vandalism. Whatever their feelings, they should denounce such behaviour without qualification - for the sake of any credibility of their cause, if nothing else.

Third, any members of the public with interest in these matters could read and research on the benefits of 1080 and on its risks and downsides. That means ignoring the emotive and misleading cries and misinformation from the protest groups. Listen to those who really care about saving our forests and our birds. Know that they recognise that use of the poison 1080 is - at least for now - the only reason many forests are alive with bird song.

Comments

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I love how the anti 1080 lobby tries to disown Jeremy Kerr, saying he was pro poison doesn't change anything. Antis are diverse bunch from those seeking to make money off pests like Jeremy through to those who say native species will survive without pest control if they are tough enough, neither of those are valid reasons for violence and threats.

6 so called threats reported in 3 years. No one charged.
What about the man on the west coast run over by the farmer on the public road verge? Or the elderly man assaulted by the poisoners? Or the doc worker who asulted a protester. Or the guy that left a threatening voice mail on the phone of one of our Hikoi walkers the same one stealing signs on private land and leaving gates open for stocker to get onto roads?!

Very well said by the ODT.

The Appalling Anti 1080 Fanatics”… is so “APPALLING”…that it certainly deserves “comment” all the way from Hawaii, where I live. As an ANTI- 1080 advocate, who has visited NZ on a regular basis (for decades) to fly fish for 3 months out of the year, spending a lot of $$…and has cared for NZ...it’s wildlife and it’s people for decades, ….being called a “fanatic” is a badge of honor….Watching the government of NZ systematically destroy one of the wonders of the earth, the ONCE pristine Brown Trout streams and rivers, renown throughout the world as some of the best, by dropping 1080 poison, deemed by the rest of the world as a WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION( and banned by the rest of the world, excepting Australia) is a travesty. I know if you go against the government, you risk being labeled, being persecuted, or losing your licenses....The people of NZ need to know what the truth is....as does the rest of the world. The moniker, that once was, the greatest advertising lie, that NZ is pure, clean and green...is just that, a lie.
Definition of fanatic: "a person who is extremely enthusiastic about and devoted to some interest or activity"(Merriam-Webster)

I'm anti 1080. I find it amusing you fly us antis under the same banner. There are fools in any group, whether it's anti 1080 or pro 1080.
Instead of abusing and putting each side down. We should all work together to insure are beautiful paradise is cared for and managed in a humane, responsible, open and honest way!!
This he said, she said mentality is not helping our environment, our wildlife, pets and ourselves. We send this picture to the international community of being 100% pure and as a nation we treat all animals as Sentient beings.
Then behind the curtain of deceit and misinformation our government and Doc are inhumanely killing and damaging the precise thing their there to protect!!
I'm anti 1080. I'm not anti anything or anyone else. I find your article bias and unhelpful.
This is about our land our home. Not about peoples egos and arrogance. Money and power!!

What an appalling attempt at journalism. The ODT has a track record on issues about poison use to eliminate certain species deemed pests that echoes propaganda by spin doctors employed by DOC. Printing this sort of nonsense will further entrench the misguided values DOC espouse. Have you as editor not heard that New Zealand has declared animals as sentient beings or like most things about 1080 you ignore the facts and think it's OK to slowly kill animals over days and weeks with slow acting poisons. OIA requests paint a very different picture about alleged threats to DOC staff. In fact very few are recorded as being the subject of complaint to Police . There are many instances of pro 1080 people threatening and harming anti 1080 protestors such as running over protestors with quad bikes and failing to stop to ascertain injury. In these instances you say nothing. The double standards you exhibit show that your journalistic skills fail to make the grade for even a local rag let alone a larger newspaper. Some of the claims you make are preposterous and you should, but don't, know better.

Geoff Guenole

Views from a 20X international visitor. Clearly there are fanatics on both sides of the 1080 controversy with "paper shouting" and loads of unsubstantiated claims. Meanwhile, NZ's Green and Pristine reputation, which drives tens of billions in tourist revenue is being poisoned as well. Enough uninformed, emotional fighting ... time to get real and focus on the facts ... the world is watching ... ready to vote with their wallets. FACT tourists go where they are treated best, they avoid RISKs to their health. Ask any travel agent. The perceived risk of being exposed to a deadly poison or having doubts about being in the water, let alone drinking it, raises their red risk flags high. Based on what I hear from other internationals, the startling facts about the use of 1080, which have been confirmed for decades, has them considering others options. They are shocked to learn that it has been banned in the rest of the world and considered a WMD if it gets into water systems ... yet, this is what the DoC is doing! After all it is documented that it kills anything that uses oxygen. Both sides and the gov need to ask if its continued use is worth it.

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