1080 Not Lead Nails, Blamed for Kea Deaths – Conservationists

Some conservationists have slammed a Fairfax article aimed at children that claimed kea were  being poisoned through eating lead head nails. Kea are poisoning themselves by eating lead head nails on mountain hut roofs said the on-line article.
The article on stuff.co.nz/kea, was titled “KEA Kids News: Kea birds eating roof nails that can kill them”.
Canterbury outdoorsman Alan Rennie described the kea-lead head nail article as “false news.” 
Marlborough outdoors author and conservationist Tony Orman said it was important that children were not told “nonsensical wrong facts, tantamount to lies.”
Steve Veail of the Council of Outdoor Recreational Associations of NZ said government poisoning was curtailing the natural lives of many keas and simultaneously reducing kea overall population.
Children should be told the truth.
1080 Cereal Baits
Alan Rennie conceded a small number of kea may have died from lead poisoning, however lead head nails have not been used since the 1960s, and most roofs were now fixed with “tech screws.” 
“The evidence suggests kea are poisoned directly by eating 1080 cereal baits,” he said. 
A survey of a kea colony following a 1080 poison aerial drop pointed strongly to the birds dying of poison.
“ Twenty-four poisoned kea, 13 died the day after 1080 baits were sown and 7 others died by the fifth day after sowing. All except two of the poisoned kea were autopsied and bright green contents were found in the digestive system, indicating that green-dyed 1080 cereal bait had been consumed,” he said.
In 2008 “The Dominion-Post” obtained a draft internal report by DOC after kea deaths at Franz Josef following aerial spreading of 1080. The report said “aerial 1080 may well be a significant threat to the Kea population” with some drops “probably devastating.
Tony Orman said it was of deep concern children were wrongly told lead nails were poisoning keas and causing their decline. 
“The main cause is 1080 poison,” he said. 
Curious Keas
Keas were ultra-inquisitive and will peck and pull at anything new and novel such as car windscreen wiper blades, car aerials and car window rubber lining etc. A bright green 1080 cereal bait would be irresistible to the ultra-curious kea.
He cited a case where a kea colony, on Marlborough’s Mt Patriarch, vanished after OSPRI sanctioned by DOC, dropped 1080 for bovine TB control.
“The reason for the drop was for possums and bovine TVB. But it was a farmer who introduced TB to the area by bringing in TB-infected cattle. They knowingly wrongly and conveniently blamed possums”.
Tony Orman said lead nails were used on old musterers’ hut roofs back in late 19th century, i.e. 1880-1890s. Kea were abundant – in fact regarded as a pest by some all through the following decades until about 1990 when numbers began to decline. 
“The dramatic kea decline with the mountain parrot now classified as ‘endangered’ only occurred during the last 20-25 years when 1080 was used intensively and extensively in mountain areas,” he said.

© Curious kea on tourists’ cars

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