Further update on this as at March 3rd: Probably more than 6 kea have died
From Pam Vernon at Envirowatch Rangitikei
The said kea will be undergoing post mortems. We wait with baited breath for the outcome, and can likely be sure that they, like the Sth Is North Beach rats, weren’t poisoned by 1080 it being mere coincidence their demise (like the North Beach rats & other various items of marine life) just happened to follow an aerial drop of the deadly Class 1A Ecotoxin. After all 1080 is ‘not very harmful to humans’ even NZ children are taught at school, and let’s remember it only targets pests like stoats, rats and possums. Well, so we are told. And in this case well they say it could be the public’s fault for feeding them in the first place. Doesn’t make sense that does it? If only pests are targeted, then it’s not working. They can’t have it both ways. EWR
Kea part of Conservation Trust study group found dead near Wānaka
‘Six kea have died following an aerial 1080 predator control operation in Otago.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is awaiting autopsy results to determine the cause of the deaths in the Matukituki Valley near Wānaka.
The birds were among 12 kea being monitored by the Kea Conservation Trust for a study on the impact of predators.
The remaining six birds have been confirmed alive since the DOC operation on February 11.
Trust chairwoman Tamsin Orr-Walker said the team was devastated.
There was always a risk during a 1080 drop that birds would pick up the bait, but she was not aware of any previous incidents where such a large number were affected.
DOC threats director Amber Bill said there was a concern the tracked kea may have been exposed to human food around the tramping huts in the valley, potentially making them more vulnerable to picking up 1080 cereal baits.
“While we are confident that predator control operations benefit kea populations at large, it’s upsetting to lose six birds.”
The 1080 drop followed the biggest forest mast in 40 years, which fuelled rodent plagues and created a spike in stoat numbers that posed a serious threat to ground-nesting kea and other native wildlife, she said.
Previous research found kea had increased survival and nesting success when 1080 was used to control rats and stoats.
While the risk of 1080 to kea in remote areas was low, it increased with birds that had leaned to scavenge for human food.
“Our work to mitigate the risk to kea from 1080 is based on extensive research and the results of 222 monitored kea through 19 aerial 1080 operations at 12 South Island sites,” Bill said.
DOC was looking to launch a campaign discouraging people from feeding kea and interaction that could lead to scrounging behaviour.
Results of the autopsy and toxicology testing on the dead birds are expected later this week.
Orr-Walker asked that people in the area report any kea sightings over the next few months on the kea database website, especially kea that have leg bands.
This would enable the trust to confirm status of their project birds.
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