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I am amazed at the strange conspiracy theories some people believe. The latest was at a protest recently at the Nelson Market alleging corruption at the Cawthron Institute. It is the latest chapter in the campaign against the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary.

The plans for this nature sanctuary free of rats, stoats and possums goes back more than a decade to visionaries like Derek Shaw and David Butler. Millions of dollars were raised for the pest-proof fence completed last year and followed by the aerial pest control operation, late last winter.

I get that some people do not like the idea of poisoning animals, even though it is the only realistic way to rid the reserve of pests but the protests against the Sanctuary Trust and their hundreds of volunteers have become farcical.

We know from other sanctuaries like Zealandia in Wellington, Maungatautari in the Waikato and Tiritiri Matangi in Auckland that these pest control programmes can be done safely and the subsequent boom in bird life is spectacular.

The debate over the safety of the local pest control programme went to Court three times last year and each time the judgement came down in favour of the Sanctuary. The subsequent social media claims that the Judges were corrupt were nutty. It was at this time that I was subject to a poison attack at the Nelson Market.   

The claims now are that the Cawthron Institute has fabricated the water testing results that show no risk of harm. Nelson’s Cawthron Institute is one of the most respected scientific research centres with an international reputation. The idea that it is deliberately misreporting test results to cover up for the Sanctuary is bizarre.  

The frustration with these sorts of conspiracy theories is that their proponents believe them so deeply that no amount of evidence will change their mind. They are similar to the ‘chemtrail’ campaigners who believe the vapour from trails in the sky left by aircraft is evidence of an international plot to poison the populace.     

The Cawthron Institute and Brook Sanctuary Trust are non-profit organisations that represent Nelson at its best. I despair when smart, dedicated scientists are subject to this sort of nonsense. I hope Nelsonians will dismiss the conspiracies and recognise the good these people are doing for our community.

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