A Taupo 1080 poison contractor has called a bomb hoax at his company's depot a "terrorist act" and labelled protesters "out of control".
Epro managing director Roger Lorigan said unknown people jumped the fence at the company's Broadlands Rd depot on Thursday and left a "suspicious package" on machinery used to load 1080 pellets into bags.
Staff noticed the package – a 20-litre container with a clock and two wires protruding – when they arrived at work about 8am yesterday, he said.
Police evacuated the site and nearby homes, and shut access roads for five hours until bomb disposal experts were able to confirm at midday that it was not a bomb. Twelve staff had to leave the site.
"The anti-1080 protesters are trying intimidation tactics to stop us doing our work. They are no different from the Taleban," Mr Lorigan said. Staff and their families had received threats that their own pets would be harmed if the aerial drops did not stop, he said.
"It's just gone too far. It's out of control. Staff are very worried [about] what will happen next."
Broadlands Rd resident Rose Higgison, who lives within 100 metres of the depot, said the hoax was a "step too far" by anti-1080 protesters.
Mr Lorigan believed it was linked to the deaths of two dogs that allegedly ate 1080 pellets dropped in forest near the Napier-Taupo Road on Tuesday. Epro completed a 1080 drop over 26,000 hectares of forest by the highway this week. The drop zone was well publicised in local newspapers, and warning notices were put up near the highway.
Mike Thompson said earlier this week that he had been running his dogs on the firebreak alongside the forest when he believed they ate the pellets. A friend wheeled the two dead dogs around the Taupo shopping centre yesterday to protest against 1080.
Mr Thompson said he knew the poison had been dropped in the forest but did not expect it to be close to the road. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Taupo Mayor Rick Cooper, a 1080 opponent, said the company was not allowed, under its resource consent, to drop the poison within two kilometres of a public highway, and blamed the dogs' deaths on "indiscriminate" poisoning.
Mr Lorigan said computerised helicopter flight paths showed no poison was dropped within 50 metres of the forest boundary, or 150 metres from the road. "The mayor is totally incorrect."
Aerial dropping of 1080 was more efficient than spreading it on foot, he said.
"It is faster and doesn't disrupt logging operations in the forest."
Taupo area commander Senior Sergeant Tony Jeurissen said police were continuing inquiries into who might be responsible for the hoax.
- The Dominion Post