The Brook Sanctuary has been vandalised ahead of its pest removal operation with staff believing two people have broken in after cutting holes in its fence.
The drop of the poison brodifacoum was planned to go ahead yesterday morning, but due to scheduling issues with helicopters it was cancelled. Nearby neighbours were notified of the drop on Saturday afternoon.
However, on Sunday, it was discovered that two holes were cut in the pest-proof fence, one large enough to accommodate a person, along with two tracks leading into the sanctuary.
Sanctuary Trust general manager Hudson Dodd believes that the people are still inside, as of Monday evening. A search and rescue team is working to locate them.
Hudson says they have repaired everything with the help from Nelmac, and have reported the acts of vandalism to the police, which is now investigating.
“We expected peaceful protest but were shocked by the level of vandalism and wilful damage.”
Yesterday morning, two security gates located on the access road to the helicopter landing site were locked and sealed with glue.
Two pine trees were also found felled and placed across the road. Secure fencing at the helicopter landing site had also been totally dismantled and scattered in the surrounding forest.
Members of the Brook Sanctuary Community Group, which has been attempting legal action to stop the drop, could not be reached for comment.