Kea killed in 1080 operation

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 17:59 21/08/2013
Kea
ENDANGERED: Five keas died after the study used a bird repellent in an aerial 1080 operation near Arthur's Pass earlier this month.

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Five kea have been killed in Arthur's Pass in a 1080 operation attempting to protect the endangered and protected species.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) are currently investigating ways to protect the kea during 1080 operations, after the first field study yielded "disappointing results".

The study used a bird repellent in an aerial 1080 operation near Arthur's Pass earlier this month, killing five of 39 monitored birds.

The deaths come after seven kea were killed at Fox Glacier after eating 1080 poison in 2008, wiping out almost half a group of the endangered parrot being monitored by DOC.

A new baiting protocol was introduced in 2010 to reduce the risk to kea, which included using less palatable baits and avoiding open areas above the bush line.

However, DOC continues to maintain that pest control using 1080 benefits birds, including kea, by improving nesting success and the survival of adult females.

Further research was now being undertaken to minimise the loss of the "particularly inquisitive" bird, DOC Technical Advisor on Threats Michelle Crowell said.

"Losing five birds is naturally disappointing but overall the benefits to kea populations from pest control continue to outweigh the loss of individual birds to 1080," she said.

"We are obviously disappointed with the results so far, and once all the data has been fully analysed we will review our options, which include increasing the repellent concentration and investigating other repellents."  

Analysis of the bait used has showed the repellent was less than the target concentration.  

It had "showed promise" in previous trials, Crowell said, but was not enough to prevent the deaths.

The repellent was used in a DOC pest control operation over 10,619 hectares around Otira and at a nearby TBfree New Zealand operation at Taipo over 10,130 hectares from June 26 to August 1.

The Otira operation was aimed at controlling possums, rats and stoats to protect forest health and benefit native birds.  

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- The Press

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