Pesky kea shifted to new hilltop home
Kea causing chaos in Kaiteriteri have today been captured and moved to a new home in Canaan Downs, on the Takaka Hill.
Kaiteriteri resident Jo Ryder said a group of kea had been "leaving a wake of destruction in their path".
At her Martin Farm Rd house, kea have destroyed a boat cover, trampoline pads and roof flashing and seals.
"We thought we had a leak in the house but it turned out to be the kea were eating rubber that was around our hot water cylinder. They are beautiful birds but, man, are they destructive?"
She estimated the amount of damage would be more than $1000, as the birds had also been attacking her neighbour's rooftop solar system.
She had tried to shoo the birds away with a hose.
"They fly away and have a wee chat and come back and laugh at you. What concerns me is the number of houses they must have visited that are holiday homes and the owners won't know anything until they rock up at Christmas."
The kea were believed to be nesting in forest near Bethany Park camp, on Martin Farm Rd.
Camp worker Jenny van Heeden said they had gouged a hole in the side of a motor home before eating its insulation. They had also damaged some camp chairs. She said the birds had been present since April but had only become a nuisance in the last month.
Kate Steffens, a senior biodiversity ranger at the Department of Conservation Motueka Field Base, said DOC was reluctant to move kea but in this case, they had "crossed a line in the sand".
The kea capture operation was led by Josh Kemp, a DOC scientist based in Nelson who is regarded as the department's foremost kea expert.
He said that contrary to popular belief, it was not uncommon for kea to be found in coastal areas.
This morning's mission went well, and, as expected the group of six kea caught were a "band of juveniles and sub-adults", he said. Once the ringleader was caught the rest of the exercise was straightforward.
The birds were moved to the Canaan Downs location which was inside the Project Janszoon preservation area, instead of the initially planned location at Lake Rotoiti.
"We don't know if they will stay there but they'll have a rosy future if they do."
He said each bird had a unique leg band.
DOC received half a dozen reports of kea around the Motueka and Takaka valleys a year and had to move kea once or twice a year.
He said there was a strong relationship between kea numbers and predator control.
As Project Janszoon's predator control programme in the Abel Tasman Nation Park intensified, it was likely kea would become more common nearby.
Mr Kemp advised people to learn to live with kea, by never encouraging them by feeding them and ensuring soft roof flashing or cables were well protected. They could also put bird spikes on their roofs, which make it uncomfortable for birds to perch on a roof apex.
He said kea were "New Zealand's bears" and once they sniffed out any sort of reward, such as food scraps in an unsecured outdoor rubbish bin, it was hard to get them to leave. "It's always very tempting to feed kea, especially if you've got kids. You may say ‘just this once' but that once may be once too often."
He estimated the national population of the birds, which are listed as "at risk", at 5000. It is illegal under the Wildlife Act for people to move or kill kea themselves.
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