Naughty kea caught, banished from camp

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:00 05/10/2013

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A band of kea have been kicked out of a Christian campground in Kaiteriteri for continuing bad behaviour.

Four kea from a mob of seven were caught with net guns on Thursday and shifted to the Rainbow ski field area in Nelson Lakes.

Last month the Department of Conservation shifted six of the birds causing chaos in the beach settlement to Canaan Downs on Takaka Hill but they returned to their disorderly ways at the Bethany Park camp within days.

Department of Conservation kea expert and Kea Conservation Trust worker Corey Mosen said the birds usually dispersed on their own, but the campground was "too entertaining" to ignore.

He thought their home territory was located in native bush slightly uphill from the motor camp.

"They were just coming into the campground and chewing on anything that got left outside.

"They were upsetting everyone."

Mr Mosen hoped better food sources at Rainbow, and the 150km distance from the camp, might convince them to stay in their new home.

"There's a lot of nice beech forest there that will hopefully keep them occupied."

Each bird was tagged before release, and one male had a transmitter attached so DOC could track him. The kea were not too upset by their capture or removal.

"They're quite chilled out for a bird, they didn't really mind being in a box. When we let them go they just slowly popped out and mucked around for a while before flying away."

Mr Mosen said DOC had tried to catch the remaining kea yesterday, but only two showed up and did not come within range of the net guns.

DOC will leave the remainder of the flock at Kaiteriteri.

Bethany Park office manager Sue Armstrong said the kea were beautiful birds, but their destructive side was "very unnecessary". They had been causing a nuisance at the campsite for about a month.

"It's just that they've been dancing around on people's roofs and some of them have got solar panels, and they go underneath the vans and there's hoses and things down there that can be damaged."

She said the last straw was when the birds had "got their beaks in and made a big hole" on the top of a campervan owned by campers who were holidaying in Britain. The hole was big enough to need repairs off-site and required an insurance claim.

But kea also have friends in high places with West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor fronting the kea's 2013 Bird of the Year campaign this year. He said the kea was one of the most intelligent wild animals in the world, praising it as "the smartest, most beautiful and unique mountain parrot."

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"Its beauty and adaptability make it an inspiration for every one of us. It is ours to enjoy, to appreciate and to protect."

Votes for the Bird of the Year competition can be cast online on the website:

birdoftheyear.co.nz.

- The Nelson Mail

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