Anti-1080 protesters cost DoC over $1m for staff security

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has spent more than a million dollars protecting its staff from threats made by anti-1080 protesters.

Controversial operations such as the Thar cull and 1080 drops generate the most harassment, and now police are being forced to take action.

DoC spokesperson Nic John said DoC workers are constantly confronted with "people driving down the streets and yelling out the windows, giving them the fingers, swearing at them".

He said workers experience "threats and confrontation in DoC offices, in the field, and also via the phone and over email".

Threats like being shot, taking down a helicopter, and one, too graphic to share, discussing a plan to kill someone's grandchildren.

And all of this, DoC says, has become just part of the job.

"It's a significant part of the work we undertake and we want to make sure our people are safe," Mr John says.

But anti-1080 lawyer Sue Grey says it's a sign of how desperate people are for 1080 to be banned.

"They feel like they're not heard unless they do something quite extreme, and that's not to be encouraged but it's a natural consequence."

Even the Prime Minister has received at least one threat on her life from a protester.

A quick Facebook search brings up a mention of baby Neve in a similar post.

Police have issued five formal warnings, made five arrests and obtained one conviction over threats, and there are four investigations still on going.

But DoC says having to respond and record the harassment comes at a cost.

Mr John says in the last two years "we've spent an excess of a million dollars on security. These range from site security and operational security through to security of offices and response programmes".

Forest and Bird says it's money that is desperately needed elsewhere.

Their chief executive, Kevin Hague, says it's "infuriating" that "extremists are forcing the Department of Conservation to have spent money that otherwise should be used to protect nature, for security reasons".

Ms Grey said she doesn't endorse illegal behaviour, but "there's illegal activity by the DoC at the moment in my view, dropping deadly poison into people's water supplies in breach of conditions".

False information is increasingly used to further the anti-1080 cause, such as pictures of dead kiwi that were actually killed by dogs and cars and the notorious dead birds dumped at Parliament with no traces of 1080 in their systems.