Jacinda Ardern receives death threat as row over use of poison grows

Posted by On 10:37 PM

Jacinda Ardern receives death threat as row over use of poison grows

New Zealand Jacinda Ardern receives death threat as row over use of poison grows

Use of deadly 1080 bait has led to New Zealand government staff being abused, locked in national parks and harassed online

A 1080 sign on the Milford Track
Protesters have intensified their efforts this year as the New Zealand government has stepped up its nation-wide pest control program. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

The New Zealand prime minister 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 tac kle invasive wildlife.

Jacinda Ardern told a local television station on Tuesday that she had received a number of threats from anti-1080 protesters, including at least one 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 over recent months, conservation department staff have had tyres 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 department helicopters, and dodged wires erected through the helicopter flight paths.

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In September anti-1080 campaigners left dozens of dead native birds on parliament steps. Toxicology tests later showed the birds had no traces of 1080 in the ir systems.

“When we see that tip into violence or threats of violence against people just working on the front line and doing their job then that concerns me,” Ardern said.

The conservation minister, Eugenie Sage, accused the activists of spreading “fake news” regarding the poison, which her department says “leaves no permanent or accumulative residue in water, soil, plants or animals” and “presents little risk to humans or the environment”.

However, despite the government’s assurances that 1080 is safe, protesters have intensified their efforts this year as the conservation department has stepped up its nationwide control program as it works towards making the country pest-free by 2050.

The poison â€" which is the chemical compound sodium fluoroacetate â€" 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 d angerous to humans and domestic animals.

Conservation department threats and harassment January to October 2018.
Conservation department threats and harassment January to October 2018. Photograph: Department of Conservation, New Zealand


The department’s director general, Lou Sanson, said the rise in intimidation was “extremely nasty” and the police were now involved.

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

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

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

Sanson 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.

Data released by the conservation department showed. there were fewer than 10 threats against staff in January but that number has increased month on month. In October more than 90 incidents were recorded, most taking the form of verbal abuse against staff, followed by social media harassment and social media threats.

Staff have been confronted and abused in cafes, on isolated roads and in forests as well as offices. One Facebook message to the department read: “if my daughter is effect by 1080 poison due to it being tossed into our water su pply, I myself will find each of you doc muppets and slaughter the skin off your faces and have you living inches before death”.

Topics
  • New Zealand
  • Pesticides
  • Asia Pacific
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • news
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Source: Google News New Zealand | Netizen 24 New Zealand

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