Funded by Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund
Kill traps and some bait delivery systems, used to control mammalian pests, may be directly responsible for keas deaths(through their accessibility), However the likelihood of kea proof systems being developed are some way off (ie manufacturers spoken to all state that kea proofing their systems is presently in the “too hard basket”), Identifying a surface repellent that would instantly put kea off from investigating the systems would be an appropriate way forward. This would solve one very important issue impacting on kea – that of inadvertent by-kill during pest control operations. In conjunction with the KCT’s bird repellent trials (conducted at a number of facilities around the country, including Auckland, and now being taken on by DOC to be used in all 1080 pre-feed and poison drops in kea habitat), this will ensure kea deaths are kept to a minimum during pest control operations.
Additionally a non-toxic surface repellent could be used in other applications to dissuade kea from damaging any other novel objects such as human property (eg cars, ski equipment, electrical wiring etc) or from frequenting café areas etc. Persecution of kea by people who consider the birds to be a pest is a significant issue for the species. In 2011 alone 5 kea were shot in Arthurs Pass, 1 kea was shot in what appeared to be a related incident on the West Coast and two of our study birds in the Hawdon Valley (Arthur’s Pass) were found dead in suspicious circumstances.
Trials will be conducted on both wild and captive kea to ascertain repellent effectiveness and best delivery method.