Mischievous . . . A juvenile kea attempts to break into a
West Matukituki Valley predator control trap to take the
eggs set up as bait inside. Photo Department of
Department of Conservation staff are being outsmarted by
"gangs" of mischievous juvenile keas intent on breaking into
predator control traps in the West Matukituki Valley, despite
heightened security systems aimed at keeping them out.
Concerns were raised last summer about gangs of young keas
interfering with the West Matukituki Valley predator control
traps. More than 75% of traps had been sprung.
Traps near the Aspiring Hut were sprung by the boxes being
rocked and rotated and in some cases, rolled away. The
problem was first thought to be caused by human interference,
but hut wardens then observed keas interfering with the
The trap boxes were subsequently secured to the ground, which
initially alleviated the problem.
However, footage was recorded last week by Doc staff showing
determined keas working hard to crack the new security
measures to steal the eggs inside, set up as predator bait.
Keas were pushing off the stones used to weigh down the traps
and attempting to pull out metal tethering stakes.
"This is the first time that we've actually found out that
even securing it to the ground hasn't stopped them attempting
to get into them," Doc community relations programme manager
Annette Smith said.
The keas concerned were the "teenagers of the kea world",
easily distinguishable by their darker green colouring.
"They leave their families and just hang out together ...
they're quite ferocious when you see them on top of there
[traps]. They're rocking and rolling. They're certainly not
Ms Smith said the birds' persistence around the traps would
have to be closely monitored.
"It's trying to keep one step ahead of the keas."
Last year, the Fiordland kea population was reported to be
demonstrating regular tool-using behaviour, after being
observed getting long sticks and poking them through the 50mm
square entrance holes of stoat boxes, to spring the traps
Kea are a protected species and it is an offence to harm or