Boy whose stone killed kea contrite
LATEST: A boy who killed a kea while on a school ski trip will do conservation work to make amends.
Police and the Department of Conservation (DOC) were notified after a kea died after being hit by a stone thrown by the boy at the Porter Heights Ski Area last Friday afternoon.
The 12-year-old was part of a group from Chisnallwood Intermediate School.
Principal Richard Paton said the incident was "very regrettable" as the school prided itself on being conservation-minded.
"I don't think there was anything specifically malicious about it," he said.
"He threw the stone at the kea; it hit the kea and unfortunately the kea died."
Paton planned to meet the boy's caregivers and arrange for him to do a form of community work in the conservation line "so that in his mind he can also make amends for something that he is very regretful of".
On DOC advice, the kea was taken to Christchurch and would be handed over to the department today.
"It's actually in the fridge with the staff lunches at the moment. It had to be put somewhere," Paton said.
Kea are an endangered native parrot, with the population estimated at fewer than 5000.
Under the Wildlife Act, killing kea is a criminal offence, liable to a fine of up to $100,000 or six months' jail.
DOC field centre supervisor Chris Stewart said it was the first incident of this kind he had heard of.
Signs at skifields stated that kea were endangered.
Stewart said it would not necessarily take a strong throw for a stone to kill a kea.
"They are so cheeky they will come quite close to people." It was unlikely any action would be taken against the child or school.
Stewart said DOC hoped to carry out a study of the dead bird, possibly testing the corpse for lead poisoning, which they had concerns about in the kea population.
A DOC education worker was arranging to take a special lesson at the school.
Porters general manager Uli Dinsenbacher said the skifield was saddened by the kea's death and intended to boost its information to schools and children about the protected native.
"Over the years we have tried everything possible to keep kea safe on the ski area. We love kea - they are our pre-season companions as we set up the ski area, we value them as unique creatures, recognising them as real characters and individual birds. We know just how precious they are to our mountain environment.
"To have a bird killed by such a reckless action made us very sad and upset. It is a serious matter and we are determined to ensure it will never happen again."
He said Porters had immediately contacted DOC and the police about the kea's death and spoke "at length" to the teacher involved, who took full responsibility.
"Had an adult been supervising these students, I am sure this thoughtless, irresponsible behaviour would have been avoided," Dinsenbacher said.
The field's usual letter to schools included information about kea, but this would be expanded to request schools spend time teaching students about kea. "We will now include education about the birds in every lesson we teach."
Dinsenbacher said that for decades the field had worked with the Kea Conservation Trust on monitoring and researching kea on Porters.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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