1080 protesters threaten to 'bring down' DoC helicopters

Anti-pesticide protesters are ramping up their stand against the use of controversial 1080 poison, threatening to bring down Department of Conservation (DoC) helicopters.

New Zealand Hunters signalled their intentions in a letter delivered to DoC in New Plymouth on Tuesday and police have confirmed that they are investigating.

A month ago, the group illegally released dozens of sika deer into the forests of north Taranaki, as part of its on-going campaign against the 1080 chemical.

The latest warning was quite explicit and chilling.

"This will be a war like no other," said the letter. "We have had enough of your bloody lies.

"We will take down people helicopters who support 1080 drops. We will take down people one by one, blood will fall - watch this happen.

"Be warned, DoC, these hunters have more guns than you or the police," reported Fairfax.

"There is no respect for you anymore. Let the war begin." 

Conversation director general Lou Sanson would not speculate on who wrote the letter or why, since the matter was now with the police.

"However, these threats to DoC staff are taken very seriously and will not be tolerated," he said. "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 conversation areas, without fear of being harmed or harrassed."

DoC has put measures in place to protect staff and contractors, including a warning to be more vigilant.