Thu, Nov 08, 2018 - Page 5 News List

NZ PM gets death threat over poison

CONSERVATION:The poison 1080 is the primary tool for eradicating pests, but campaigners say it threatens native wildlife, and is dangerous to humans and pets

The Guardian, DUNEDIN, New Zealand

Meghan, Britain’s Duchess of Sussex, right, attends a reception hosted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Tuesday last week.

Photo: AFP

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been the subject of a death threat from environmental campaigners who have intensified their opposition to the government’s use of the poison 1080 to tackle invasive wildlife.

Ardern on Tuesday told a local television station that she had received a number of threats from anti-1080 protesters, including at least one threat against her life, but said she was more concerned about increasing levels of harassment and violence to conservation staff.

As opposition to the use of the pesticide has grown, New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) staff have had their tires slashed and wheel nuts loosened, been locked in national parks by protesters blocking exits, received verbal and social media threats, including death threats, had protesters threaten to shoot down DOC helicopters and have dodged wires erected through DOC helicopter flight paths.

The poison — which is the chemical compound sodium fluoroacetate — is the government’s primary tool for eradicating pests such as possums, stoats and weasels, but campaigners say it threatens native wildlife, pollutes rivers and waterways, and is dangerous to humans and domestic animals.

DOC Director-General Lou Sanson said the uptick in intimidation was “extremely nasty” and the police were now involved.

Police yesterday arrested an anti-1080 activist and charged him with four counts of blackmail regarding threatening letters he had sent to DOC staff in New Plymouth over the past year.

At least one DOC ranger is on leave after being subject to violent threats regarding 1080.

“DOC staff need to be able to get on with their job of protecting conservation areas without fear of being harmed or harassed,” Sanson said.

He said 1080 was “the best tool” for pest control in rugged or remote areas, and native forests would be devastated if the poison was not used to target invasive species, and give native and endemic species a chance to recover.

DOC staff have been confronted and abused in cafes, on isolated roads and in forests.

One Facebook message to the DOC read: “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.”

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