Date: 05 December 2017
The aggressive letter intensifies threats against DOC staff and claims more sika deer will be released unless DOC stops its use of 1080 to control predators.
It follows an anonymous letter in October which said sika deer were being released in Taranaki forests in retaliation for 1080 operations.
The Director-General of Conservation Lou Sanson says DOC will not be speculating on who wrote the letter or why, as it is now a matter for the police to investigate.
“However these threats to DOC staff are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated. I am appalled that someone would threaten our staff in this way as they are trying to go about their daily work to protect our native species and wildlife.
“DOC is responsible for managing more than a third of New Zealand’s land area and it’s important our staff are able to get on with their job of protecting conservation areas without fear of being harmed or harrassed,” Mr Sanson says.
DOC has put measures in place to protect staff and contractors, including asking staff to be more vigilant as they go about their daily work.
Overall the level of 1080 protest has been relatively low this year and most have protested lawfully. “Apart from a few isolated cases, the feedback we get is that most New Zealanders strongly support DOC’s work to protect our native species and habitats and understand why we need to use 1080 as part of our war against predators,” Mr Sanson says.
Recent threats against DOC staff involving 1080 in the past few months:
- three cases where wheel nuts were allegedly loosened on DOC, private and contractor’s vehicles
- in the most serious case a contractor’s wheel came off while he was driving
- 1080 baits left in a letterbox at a DOC address
- DOC staff member confronted at work
- threats to bring helicopters down
- sika deer released illegally in the Taranaki area (DOC received a letter saying this was part of an anti-1080 protest but this is still being investigated). 17 of these deer have been culled so far by DOC hunters.
Releasing sika deer in Taranaki is a significant environmental concern. Sika are a serious pest and their browsing habits mean they are a threat to the structure of native forests. Once established, sika deer are difficult to see and control, and therefore to eradicate.
For media enquiries contact:
Bronwyn Saunders, DOC Media Manager
Mobile: + 64 29 916 3887