Vandalism a good sign in kea project


 A rangers’ tent in South Westland was torn to pieces by kea.
A rangers’ tent in South Westland was torn to pieces by kea.

It is not often that your work equipment being torn apart is a sign of doing your job well.

But that was the case for some workers in South Westland recently.

Pest controllers in South Westland found their tent shredded to pieces by kea.

Zero Invasive Predators (Zip) field rangers recently returned to their base in the Perth River Valley behind Whataroa, where they have been working to eliminate possums, rats and stoats. The area is now effectively free of predators.

Their large tent, located at the confluence of the Perth and Barlow rivers, has been a permanent fixture in the Perth Valley field site since late 2020.

While the field team have enjoyed frequent encounters with kea at the tent, their recent visit was slightly different. Workers found a mob of eight unbanded juvenile kea on, and around, it.

As gear was removed from the tent, the birds amused themselves by climbing over the neatly stacked equipment, undoing packages and opening boxes.

The tent and wooden base was removed from the site and returned to the Zip field base at Franz Josef, where it will undergo some sorely-needed repairs and maintenance.

The tent fly appears to have sustained most of the damage, so with the purchase of a replacement, the tent should live to fight another day - perhaps at another location within the Predator Free South Westland project area, Zip chief executive Al Bramley says.

‘‘While certainly inconvenient for our rangers, this encounter is another positive sign that kea in the area are continuing to do very well in the absence of possums, rats and stoats,’’ Mr Bramley said.

‘‘The team is thrilled to be seeing the results of our work with Predator Free South Westland to protect these charismatic, cheeky birds.

‘‘We look forward to seeing what hijinks they get up to next!’’

- Staff reporter 

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