Tahr carcases used in bid to protect kea

Three hundred tahr are to be culled and fed to kea in an attempt to keep the endangered native parrots away from an aerial 1080 poison drop in the hills behind Whataroa.

Zero Invasive Predators (Zip) was last month granted permission from the Department of Conservation for intensive predator control in an attempt to eradicate possums and, potentially, rats, from about 12,000ha of rugged backcountry at the Perth River.

It is the same operation that was originally scheduled for last winter, but was delayed because of bad weather.

It coincided with public concern that kea had been observed eating the non-toxic pre-feed baits, which were aerially dropped to get pest animals accustomed to eating them before the poisoned baits were dropped.

Zip said in a statement last week its kea risk mitigation plan involved the ''deployment'' of 30 tahr carcases around the outside boundary of the Perth River operational area.

Because tahr carcases typically lasted no longer than seven days in kea habitat before being reduced to skin and bones, it expected to have to repeat the exercise 10 times during the course of the operation - accounting for 300 carcases at a cost of $100,000.

Zip said all tahr used would be nannies, and they would be counted in the overall tally killed as part of Department of Conservation operations to control tahr numbers in the Southern Alps.

Zip said its kea risk mitigation measures had the support of Doc, Makaawhio, Ngai Tahu, NZ Deerstalkers Association and Game Animal Council.

It is estimated there are 75 to 100 kea within the Perth River valley system.


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