A Taranaki man has pleaded not guilty to blackmailing the Department of Conservation in an attempt to end its 1080 pest control programme.
Gregory Ross Buchanan appeared in the New Plymouth District Court this morning on four charges of blackmail.
The Crown alleges that Mr Buchanan wrote four letters between September 2017 and November this year threatening to release Sika deer into the DOC estate, including Egmont National Park, and to poison meat and milk processing plants.
It said Mr Buchanan's aim was to force the department to stop using 1080.
His counsel Patrick Mooney said his client had not yet been unable to fully consider the charges, and he entered deemed not guilty pleas on Mr Buchanan's behalf.
Judge Chris Sygrove bailed Mr Buchanan to a New Plymouth address and ordered to reappear on 24 January.
As a condition of his bail Mr Buchanan was ordered not to enter Rimu St where the Department of Conservation office was located in New Plymouth.
He was also ordered not to approach Department of Conservation staff or to enter DoC land.
A small group of anti-1080 protestors from the Facebook group Operation Ban 1080 gathered outside the court to support Mr Buchanan.
Mr Buchanan was arrested earlier this month following an extensive police investigation which began in September 2017.
DOC received four letters of a threatening nature relating to the use of 1080 between 25 September 2017 and 6 November 2018.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also indicated she received threatening letters relating to the use of 1080.
Police were continuing to investigate the illegal release of Sika deer into the Taranaki conservation area.