Sharp rise in threats to DOC as 1080 protesters hold demonstrations

Anti-1080 protesters are ramping up their efforts with mass demonstrations and a sharp rise in threats to the Department of Conservation.

The 1080 poison has been used to protect New Zealand's wildlife.

In the past month. DOC staff have had their car tyres slashed and wheel nuts loosened, and there have been threats to bring down helicopters.

Protest organiser Alan Gurden said, "this is always our wish for a nationwide action simultaneously."

However, a hikoi has also been blamed for a rise in threats to DOC staff and contractors.

"As the hikoi has ramped up across the country I'm worried for my staff. We are taking all those threats seriously and we're putting them with police," said DOC director-general Lou Sanson.

"We've had things like wheel nuts on vehicles loosened, abusive threats on staff. That is not acceptable," said Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

DOC says it has had 17 threats or attacks in the last month alone and half of them referred to police.

This is a huge increase as DOC only experienced 33 threats or attacks for the whole of last year.

"The abusive, aggressive and irrational attics of some are putting operations at risk. That puts our wildlife at risk," Ms Sage said.

Mr Gurden said his group is not to blame.

"We are a hundred per cent peaceful and legal. We will take these poisons down," he said.

Social media has been used to drum up support for today's hikoi, but conservationists say it's also been used to push lies and misinformation.

There have been coordinated attacks online, with the unrelated live streams of news outlets bombarded with comments.

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand have also experienced threats.

"When people are talking about targeting families and children then that's getting pretty, pretty low," said one staff member.

Mr Sanson said: "We have zero tolerance because our staff are just going about their job."

Resources are now going into extra security and protecting staff, rather than the country's wildlife.

Department of Conservation staff say in the past month they've had their car tyres slashed and wheel nuts loosened. Source: 1 NEWS