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The Department of Conservation is releasing the first birds into the Omoeroa Range, south of Franz Josef Glacier.
At present, adults are found only in the Okarito forest. Doc said this week there were now about 600 rowi in the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. There were just 160 individuals in 1995.
As the birds were very
territorial, new habitat was needed to accommodate their growing numbers.
The rowi are being brought from Motuara Island, where chicks are raised away from predators. Between 25 and 30 will be released today.
Losses were so bad in 2003 Conservation Minister Chris Carter personally announced it. That year all 14 monitored chicks were predated.
Doc began tracking birds and removing eggs, and the population began to recover.
Last year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature upgraded the rowi's status from ''endangered'' to ''vulnerable''.