Dead kea were shot: DOC

AT RISK: Kea are endangered and their wild population could be as low as 1000 birds.
AT RISK: Kea are endangered and their wild population could be as low as 1000 birds.

Five dead kea found at Arthur's Pass were shot and police are now investigating the killings, says the Department of Conservation (DOC).

The five were found piled up on picnic tables at Klondyke Corner, near Arthur's Pass, at the beginning of last week.

Evidence from an autopsy pointed to the use of an air-rifle and a shotgun to kill the five, said DOC field centre supervisor Chris Stewart.

Kea were endangered and their wild population could be as low as 1000 birds, he said.

"We are appalled by this sort of behaviour and we have referred the matter to the New Zealand police.

"All five animals were young and healthy and could have gone on to contribute to future generations of the species."

Under the Wildlife Act, it is a criminal offence to kill kea. Offenders could face a $100,000 fine or six months in prison.

The incident occurred in the same week that a dead kea was dumped on the driveway of a DOC staff member on the West Coast.

Early indications were that the bird was also shot and the case had also been referred to police.

NZPA