5 Aug 2008

Mayor calls for calm following 1080 protests

3:14 pm on 5 August 2008

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn is calling for calm on the West Coast, following heated protests over the use of the poison 1080.

Mr Kokshoorn says debate about the poison has spiralled out of control. He says many farmers fear protesters might target them, because the poison is used to kill pests that might infect cattle with tuberculosis.

"Farmers shouldn't have to worry to that point where they feel as though they are threatened, so really I'm appealing to everyone just to keep back from that type of thing."

During a protest last week at a 1080 loading site, the Animal Health Board says a worker was assaulted. A man was due to appear in the Greymouth District Court on Tuesday.

Police are also still investigating the death of a control officer's dog, which was fed 1080 last month.

The board has hired security guards to protect regional council staff and contractors distributing the poison.

Security staff will also guard places where pellets are stored, following incidents where packages purporting to contain 1080 were sent to state agencies, and pellets were scattered in prominent locations.

A planned aerial drop of 1080 was cancelled on the West Coast on Monday due to bad weather. It is due to take place next week, weather permitting.

Compensation demand

Tourism operators on the West Coast are preparing a compensation claim, saying their businesses have been harmed by a 1080 poison drop in Karamea.

Karamea tourism operator Paul Murray says the Animal Health Board has already rejected a claim from seven operators in the northern West Coast region for interruption to business and restriction of trade.

He says several operators are compiling another claim, which will go directly to the Minister of Agriculture.