Department of Conservation pest control experts are looking at changes to DOC’s rat bait distribution systems after the death of six native parrots in a Wairarapa reserve.
Toxicology tests have revealed traces of rat poison in three of the six kaka which were found dead in the Pukaha Mount Bruce forest late last year.
Staff had earlier noticed that some of the about 100 kaka living in the 942 hectare forest were tampering with the ground-based plastic distribution stations that deliver baits containing the rat poison diphacinone.
“The bait stations are made to withstand attention but a number of kaka were seen breaking into the bait stations and eating cereal pellets containing the rat poison,” DOC’s Threats Unit Manager Jeff Flavell said.
Mr Flavell says staff immediately began adding metal plates to the more than one thousand bait stations within the reserve to stop the birds opening the plastic containers.
He says access to the stations has been blocked and there have been no further losses. DOC has discussed the problem with neighbouring regional councils, and has briefed staff across the country so they are aware of the kaka’s potential behaviour.
Mr Flavell said that without poison, rats and other predators would effectively wipe out the populations of native birds now growing in protected reserves around New Zealand.
“Kaka don’t normally break into bait stations but they are intelligent and powerful birds and we need to factor this incident into our management techniques for kaka in the future,” he said.