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Tas: Activists blamed for booby traps in Tasmanian valley

By Paul Carter
04 May 2009 5:46 PM
EDS: Adds number of arrests and charges.

HOBART, May 4 AAP - Anti-logging protesters have been blamed for laying potentially deadly booby traps in Tasmania's Styx Valley.

The claim came as police moved on Monday to arrest a small number of activists in the nearby Upper Florentine valley, 100km west of Hobart.

MP Daniel Hulme claims activists have put lives at risk by setting up booby traps.

He said they were to blame for a trap in the Styx Valley, which Forestry Tasmania said could have seriously injured or killed a timber feller.

A strand of fencing wire was strung between two trees in a forestry coupe last month, 30 metres above the ground so the wire could not be seen from the ground, Forestry Tasmania told police.

A contractor discovered the trap after a tree limb was snapped by the wire as a tree fell to the ground, fortunately missing the faller.

Such traps can change the direction in which trees fall, so workers may be struck despite believing they are standing in a safe spot.

The discovery of the trap followed a $1.2 million arson attack the week before on forestry equipment in the Lower Florentine valley.

No charges have been laid over either incident.

Mr Hulme is convinced anti-logging activists are to blame, saying "tying cables between trees as they did in the Styx" was one example of how activists were putting lives at risk.

Asked how he knew who strung the cables, Mr Hulme said: "It's often the sort of thing that these protesters engage in, particularly when they are establishing tree sits."

Tasmanian police on Monday worked to remove anti-logging activists from a forestry exclusion zone in the Upper Florentine valley.

The protest is at the site where a ramshackle protest camp established in 2006 was dismantled by police last year, after that part of the state forest was declared an exclusion zone.

Exclusion zones are established to keep people a safe distance away from logging operations, but breaching them is trespassing and critics say they're used as a tool to keep protesters out.

Activists from the Still Wild, Still Threatened group have been trying to reestablish their camp since it was dismantled.

Police arrived at the site on Monday morning to remove activists from the exclusion zone so Forestry Tasmania can carry out road works and harvesting.

A Hobart man, 24, was charged with trespass after refusing to leave the exclusion zone and a South Australian woman, 21, was also charged with trespass after being removed from a lock-on device inside a wrecked van.

Police were still working to safely extract three activists from tree sits, as well as a woman activist inside a tunnel under a road.

Still Wild, Still Threatened spokesman Ed Hill said 60 police "raided camp Florentine" on Monday morning to remove road blockades so that logging of the contentious area could begin.