Anti-1080 protesters have vandalised signs and kicked over traps designed to stop predators killing kiwi in Opua State Forest, despite the fact the area hasn't been treated with 1080 for 30 years.
Conservation group Bay Bush Action is angry its work to protect the native bush is being undermined by the vandalism and is urging those responsible to instead put their efforts into helping protect native birds.
The group is trapping part of the Opua State Forest behind Paihia and has had traps kicked over and anti-1080 graffiti painted over signs that help protect kiwi from dogs even though the area hasn't been treated with 1080 in 30 years.
The defaced signage was donated to the Bay Bush Action group and tamariki from their Ngahere Toa arm had put the signs up as part of learning about protecting kiwi. The group say the forest is in "a state of collapse" and this prompted them into action, starting Bay Bush Action.
"It's a massively expensive effort to protect just 250 hectares, of the 2000 hectare Opua State Forest with trapping, and it's a kick in the guts to have this challenging volunteer work attacked," trust member Brad Windust said.
Although the group only uses traps to protect the forest, they have been vocal supporters of 1080 use in New Zealand and this may be behind the attack.
"We put a huge effort into researching 1080 for ourselves. This included not only reviewing the science but travelling the country looking at areas that have regularly used it, and places that had not. We are 100 per cent in support of its use now, for a number of reasons but mostly because it works," Windust said.
Windust said what really offended him was that the anti-1080 objectors rarely helped to save native forests. He said they had little, if any, understanding of forest ecology.
The group said a social media invitation was put out by a leading anti-1080 activist in Northland, calling for those who opposed the poison to volunteer with the Bay Bush Action group. The group said the invitation was shared on social media but the group only received one email from a fur trapper in Hamilton asking them to fill out his Department of Conservation concession application.
"They have time to kick over our stoat traps and deface our signs but they're not prepared to even trap the forest as an alternative to 1080," Windust said.
The group says it will not be threatened, silenced or intimidated by the anti-1080 lobby while introduced pests are destroying native forests.