Kea killed by rock thrown by child

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 12:21 23/07/2012
Kea
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
ENDANGERED: A kea, like this one pictured at the Otira Gorge, has died after being hit by a rock thrown by a child at Porter Heights Ski Area.

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Police and the Department of Conservation have been notified after a kea was killed at a Canterbury skifield.

Porter Heights Ski Area manager Uli Dinsenbacher said a kea died after being hit by a rock that was thrown by a child at the skifield with a school group last Friday afternoon.

Dinsenbacher was unsure whether the children were throwing stones at each other and the kea got caught in the crossfire or if the bird was targeted.

It was a busy day and there were about 200 children in the car park at the time, he said. If skifield staff had seen the children throwing rocks at the kea, they would have intervened.

''It was just kids being kids,'' he said. ''I don't know if the child knew what he was doing.''

DOC field centre supervisor Chris Stewart said it was the first incident of this kind he had heard about.

There were signs at skifields that kea were endangered. It would not necessarily take a strong throw for a rock to kill a kea.

''They are so cheeky they will come quite close to people,'' Stewart said.

Police and DOC would look into the circumstances of the kea's death and ''work with'' the child and the school, he said.

Under the Wildlife Act, killing kea is a criminal offence, liable to a fine of up to $100,000 or six months in prison.

There were only an estimated 5000 kea left in New Zealand. It was unlikely any action would be taken against the child or school.

Stewart said DOC hoped to carry out a study on the dead bird. They could test the corpse for lead poisoning, which they had concerns about in the kea population.

Last year five kea were found shot dead at Klondyke Corner, but the culprits were never found.

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