This page is dedicated to highlighting conflict issues that are still occuring between humans and kea.
It is our hope that through a more proactive, collaborative approach and open and frank dialogue with communities, that practical solutions can be put in place to resolve long standing issues.
On this page:
Photo credit:Andrew Walmsley
Kea checking out skiers equipment. Photo credit: Jonny Morgan
Alteration of the natural landscape through clearing, grazing of domestic stock and planting of food crops has decreased available natural food sources and habitats for wild species.
Those species unable to adapt to the rapid changes , diseases or exotic animals and plants which humans have introduced, have become extinct in the wild or have seriously declined across their natural range.
Those native species which have been able to adapt to these human induced changes in their habitat and take advantage of the new resources which humans have introduced, have invariably come into conflict with landowners.
The natural curiousity of kea has caused problems with humans in the high country
Photo credit: Vicky Nall
Kea Conflict - an overview
Killing of kea was legal up until 1971. At this time partial protection was granted under the Wildlife Act followed by full protection in 1986 after pressure from Forest and Bird. It is now a serious offence to kill a kea with a conviction resulting in a fine of up to $100,000 ( +$5,000 per additional head or egg of wildlife) or up to 6months imprisonment (Wildlife Act, 1953 No. 31 s 67A). However, conflict with property owners in the South Island still occurs today.
Damage to sheep on high country farms, equipment and vehicles at ski fields, public parking areas, private farms and homes has in serious situations, resulted in kea being legally relocated by the Department of Conservation to alternative locations.
Follow this link for a video on kea at Treble Cone: http://tvnz.co.nz/view/video_popup_flash_skin/1463723
In some cases however, individuals have taken matters into their own hands and illegally killed single or multiple birds. The discovery of several dead birds on the West Coast of the South Island in 2007 and Arthurs Pass in 2008, is evidence of this practice still occuring.
The potential damage to the wild population through continued uncontrolled removal of birds cannot be underestimated and any concerns or knowledge of these practices should be brought to the attention of the Department of Conservation.
The Department of Conservation commissioned the Kea Advocacy Strategy (Peat, 1996) to address the issues of human - kea conflict which were discussed in 1994 at the Department of Conservation Kea Management Team workshop. This document identifies the historical and present issues for both people and kea, public perceptions, and proposes conflict resolution strategies. It also incorporates the Wild Kea Management Statement (Grant, 1993) a document which describes the Department of Conservations involvement and management of kea issues.
Both of these documents are well worth a read and are now available to download from our Resources - Manuals and Papers page.
Photo: Andrew Walmsley
Conflict with high country sheep farmers is an on-going issue which prior to protection been granted to kea in the 1970’s resulted in an estimated 150,000 kea been killed in a legal bounty system in NZ. There are now only 1,000-5,000 kea remaining across the entire range.
Today illegal poisoning and shooting incidents continue to be reported and in some cases birds have been shot legally or removed by DOC to stop rogue birds attacking sheep. Unfortunately at this point in time there is no obligation for farmers to change husbandry routines to decrease the likelihood of kea strike in sheep such has been suggested by DOC even though kea are endangered and protected under the Wildlife Act.
From discussions with other farmers and Department of Conservation concerning kea strike on sheep, a particular set of factors appear to decrease the likelihood of injury to stock: 1) bringing animals down to less than 600m during winter prior to snow fall and 2) correct vaccination of stock to ensure that they do not develop septicaemia in the event of a strike. Farms neighbouring each other, each with different sheep husbandry routines which involve these two factors, appear to have very different outcomes with kea interactions.
We would love to hear your views. Here are a few facts to explain why kea may attack sheep:
Here also is an article describing kea interactions with sheep. Constant reference of keas as a ‘killer parrot’, ‘deadly menace’ and ‘squawking in loud raucous glee’ are concerning, in that they attribute kea, a wild animal living in a harsh and human altered environment, with negative human personality traits and behaviours:
“New Zealand is renowned for its breath taking scenery and safety in the bush. There are few countries in the world where you can experience travel adventure and wander through the bush with no dangerous species lurking in the shadows. However under the majestic Southern Alps, there now lurks a killer that has become a deadly menace.
Ross Ivey owns 20,000 ha of high-country sheep station, next to the Mt Cook national park. Now he looks over his shoulder in fear, as he rides across his property. A rogue Killer Parrot is on the loose, who prefers its food live. It thought a large flock of sheep was a Kea-purpose-built Blue Moon Opportunity, (something that completely changes the life).
A few days ago one of Ross Ivey’s sheep died of blood poisoning, because a kea had pecked through the skin of the sheep and eaten a kidney”. “There was a time when the farmers could protect their flocks of sheep by shooting rogue keas, but this is no longer permissible. The Killer Parrot knows all this and is squawking in loud raucous glee. It has acres and acres of wonderful live-meals-on-the-hoof to choose from. Some people are suggesting the only solution to this feathered problem, is to capture the Killer Parrot and relocate it. The rogue killer may find its Blue Moon Opportunity changes more than it bargained for.However Ross Ivey believes, “With the intelligence of the Killer and the ruggedness of the terrain, it is more than likely the kea will find its way back to its living pantry, no matter how far away it is taken.”
Ross and his neighbouring farmers are simply going to have to live with the problem and keep a vigilant eye on their flocks of sheep, until a solution can be evolved.”
For the full entry visit: http://winaresort.com/blog/blogtag/new-zealand/
Poaching is an ugly word; a word more commonly associated with countries that are ravaged by war, extreme poverty and corruption. We think of poaching as something that does not occur to our protected wildlife here in New Zealand, but the reality is that the continued killing of kea, a protected and endangered endemic, is poaching.
Poaching is defined as “the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of animals” (Peter 2007) and although in first world communities the reasons for poaching may be vastly different to that of third world countries, the effect on the species is the same “No matter the reason why an animal is killed, all types of hunting or poaching have led to extinction of species, and if uncontrolled many more animals will become extinct”.
Photo: Kea gun
The kea Conservation Trust is currently investigating products used overseas to successfully (and safely) deter birds from damaging equipment and personal property.
The Trust will be looking to trial these products as soon as samples become available. If you or your organisation is experiencing problems and would like to help us with this research, please contact us (Contact details in the side menu). We will then look to secure funding and the appropriate permts from the Department of conservation to trial these products out.
Juvenile kea checking out a cars windscreen rubber at Arthurs Pass
First things first - remember that humans have entered into kea habitat - not the other way around. Therefore it is our responsibility to ensure we protect our property - It is not the keas fault for damaging what we have left out for them to investigate!
The number 1 rule is:
1. Put anything away that can be put away;
2. If this is not possible anything that is flexible, ripable, pullable or edible should be covered by a durable cover.
3. All sheep should be brought down below 600m prior to snowfall and be fully vaccinated.
Department of Conservation advise to prevent kea trouble:
Follow these procedures if you ever have Kea interfering with your belongings and equipment:
Here are some great ideas used successfully by Peter Johnstone from Downer EDI Works in the Milford area for protection of wiring and aerials:
"On r/t aerials we use a heavy walled self gluing heat shrink, that is very effective.
On wiring looms we use a flexible conduit - both the heat shrink and conduit are sourced
from most electrical suppliers. Any wiring that we can not use conduit we use a
Wurth product called Wurthfix 2 semi rigid, it is a 2 pot resin that can be applied to
exposed wiring which sets hard. The sales rep for this is Shane Attfield 021 688 350."
If you have any solutions to past problems with kea, please contact us so that we can make others aware of them. Every little bit helps!
If you are experiencing continued problems with kea, or, have concerns as to human/kea interaction in your area, please feel free to contact us (refer the Contacts page in the menu).
The Kea Conservation Trust aims to search for practical solutions to any issues involving kea.
The Trust aims, in conjunction with other organisations and experienced individuals, to help solve issues by encouraging open discussion and research on what have historically been controversial topics.
Only by acknowledging and networking with others who have successfully solved similar issues (whatever the species) can we hope to achieve a balance with kea in the future.
There are many international examples of conflict between animals and humans and we are very lucky here in New Zealand to have relatively minor issues in comparison to other countries.
International examples include: