Funds that ought to be spent on conservation have to be used to protect Department of Conservation (DoC) staff:
The Department of Conservation has spent more than $1 million protecting its staff from threats and abuse from anti-1080 protesters but says that doesn’t reflect the full cost of what they’re dealing with.
Incidents over the past 18 months include threats to shoot down DOC helicopters and skin the faces off staff.
A letter was delivered to DOC’s New Plymouth office with a blue substance leaking out of it, and in the South Island a 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.
Over the past two years DOC has spent around $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, which culminated in an anti-1080 hikoi to Parliament.
That CIM involved covering the costs for up to 30 DOC staff to monitor the situation.
DOC spokesperson Nic John said they had been working with police to manage the situation – that had resulted in four warnings, four arrests and one conviction so far.
“These figures don’t capture the true cost of security to the organisation. Other costs incurred locally have not been captured, as they are very hard to collate nationally.” . .
The figures don’t take into account the human cost either.
I spent a few weeks in Dunedin this year and while walking the dog I was sitting I came across another dog walker.
When I introduced myself he asked me if I was related to someone with the same surname. When I said yes he explained how he knew her and only then mentioned he worked for DoC.
I asked if he’d had any problems with the anti-1080 zealots and he said he hadn’t but because of the threats he didn’t usually tell people who he worked for.
Forest and Bird’s chief executive Kevin Hague said it was infuriating DOC had had to shift money away from conservation.
“This is money that should have been available for the vital task of protecting our nature and to have it diverted, in order that DOC staff and contractors can be safe from these awful people, is just absolutely frustrating.”
He said the irrational behaviour of the anti-1080 protesters was highlighted last week when autopsy results revealed a weka, which was used during a protest, had likely been shot with a .22 rifle – despite claims it had died from 1080.
“These extremist anti-1080 protesters are just completely beyond reason, they don’t use actual evidence in anything they say and their arguments are immune to the rules of logic that most people would apply,” Mr Hague said. . .
I don’t understand people who think the lives and wellbeing of people come second to their cause.
They won’t see the irony that diverting money to protect DoC staff from them takes it away from the work needed to protect the endangered species they purport to be fighting for.
They are zealots and their immunity to the rules of logic makes countering them both expensive and potentially dangerous.