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Mountain man makes poison protest -

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Mountain man makes poison protest

Kerri Ritchie reported this story on Thursday, August 27, 2009 12:42:00

ELEANOR HALL: Now to New Zealand and that unusual protest against the pesticide 1080.

50-year-old Chris Short climbed up Mount Tongariro in the North Island on Sunday, telling his wife
he was going out to buy some milk. Four days later he's still refusing to come down from the
mountain top.

This is Mr Short's second very public protest against the poison 1080. Last time he protested by
hijacking a helicopter as New Zealand correspondent Kerri Ritchie reports.

KERRI RITCHIE: Chris Short is from Taupo, a city on a very big lake surrounded by snow capped
mountains, right in the middle of New Zealand's North Island.

Depending on who you talk to Chris Short is either a passionate "bushie" with a real talent for
bone carving or a man who has lost his marbles.

But no-one disputes the fact that Mr Short is very ill. He has a tumour in one of his kidneys and
is believed to have just weeks to live.

For the past four nights the 50-year-old has been on the snowy slopes of Mount Tongariro, in the
rain, without a tent.

It's a one man stand against the use of 1080 in New Zealand and 20-year-old Teryl Short is very
impressed at her dad's determination.

TERYL SHORT: The most amazing man. My hero. Everyone's hero or should be everyone's hero.

KERRI RITCHIE: Teryl Short went up the mountain yesterday to visit her father. She gave him some
food and a mobile phone so he could chat to his wife.

TERYL SHORT: He is looking great. Doing wonders for him. He's saving everyone's children and
generations to come. He is a stubborn man. He is up there for perfect reasons. I know exactly why
he is doing it.

KERRI RITCHIE: Why Chris Short is doing it is because he hates 1080.

The pesticide is used across New Zealand by the Department of Conservation to kill introduced pests
like rabbits, ferrets and rats.

But its main use according to The Department of Conservation, or DOC as it's known, is to kill
possums which carry tuberculosis and spread it to dairy cows.

DOC says while it doesn't deliberately target deer some animals do die and DOC believes this is why
so many deer hunters are against 1080.

No-one from the Conservation Department would be interviewed. They said they didn't want to inflame
an already sensitive situation but they did give this statement to the ABC.

EXTRACT FROM CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT STATEMENT: Introduced predators will kill nine out of 10 kiwi
chicks before they make adulthood and 1080 is one of the many tools we use in the fight to protect
our native birds and forests.

Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about 1080's use and as a result some people hold
very strong views on the subject.

However Mr Short's safety is the priority at this stage and DOC is keeping in close contact with
the police over the situation.

KERRI RITCHIE: Chris Short has told his wife and daughter that he'll only come down off the
mountain if an anti-1080 documentary called "Poisoning Paradise" is screened on national TV in New
Zealand.

Leanne Short says she had no idea what her husband had planned when he left their home on Sunday.

LEANNE SHORT: He said he needed to go up there for you know, a bit of spirituality and healing he
said. I didn't think he quite sort of wanted, I didn't know that he was going to demand them to
play the documentary.

But I mean, I think that is great really for New Zealand to see.

KERRI RITCHIE: But she shouldn't have been too surprised. Chris Short carried out a similar protest
on the mountain 14 years ago. He hijacked a helicopter at gunpoint after suspecting the three men
on board were dropping 1080 pellets. He forced the pilot to fly him to Mount Tongariro where he hid
out for five days.

Mr Short only came down after a television news crew climbed up and interviewed him. He told them
he felt poisoned by 1080, like he had all the sins of the Department of Conservation on him and
that he had to do something.

He was jailed for two years.

Leanne Short says her husband might be sick physically but he's mentally strong.

LEANNE SHORT: Well of course I'd love to have him home but I mean where he is, he loves being in
the bush. So you know you've got to accept that really don't you.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Chris Short's wife Leanne Short ending that report from Kerri Ritchie.