Possum control work blocked

A Dunedin landowner has blocked Ospri staff from carrying out possum control on his land, claiming the company is "harassing" him and being a "nuisance".

But the pest control company says it is allowed on the property and the work is critical to ensure a tuberculosis (Tb) outbreak is prevented in the area.

Police were called to Adrian Black’s Sawyers Bay property about 9.30am yesterday, after Ospri staff were confronted by Mr Black and about 20 others who also opposed Ospri’s work.

Mr Black grazes sheep and has an area of native bush on the 7ha property on Upper Junction Rd.

Ospri has visited his property three times previously as a part of its Tb-free programme, which aims to eradicate bovine Tb by carrying out possum control.

Yesterday was to be the company’s fourth visit.

Mr Black said he had concerns about the need for the programme and its effectiveness.

He said he asked the company not to come on to his land until he had time to consider answers he received late last week to a series of questions he had asked of Ospri.

The company, however, told him it would be there at 9am yesterday, because "I had no rights as a private property owner to stop them", Mr Black said.

When two Ospri staff members and a security guard arrived, protesters blocked their ute with a car.

Sawyers Bay landowner Adrian Black did not want Ospri to access his property and carry out possum...
Sawyers Bay landowner Adrian Black did not want Ospri to access his property and carry out possum control yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh.
Shortly after, four police officers arrived. They spent about an hour talking to both parties.

Ospri did not attempt to enter the property.

Mr Black opposed the work because he did not believe Tb among possums was a significant issue.

The animal disease management agency is allowed, under the the Biosecurity Act 1993, to enter private property and conduct pest control operations in order to reduce Tb.

The work was required because there had been a Tb outbreak in the area and an infected possum was found nearby, Ospri service delivery general manager Vivienne Larson said.

A police spokeswoman said a meeting was scheduled between those involved for later this week to attempt to resolve the matter.

All parties had left the scene by about 10.50am.

Police declined further comment, citing privacy reasons.

molly.houseman@odt.co.nz

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