Poster Presentation 64th International Conference of the Wildlife Disease Association 2015

Investigating the history of the conflict between kea (Nestor notabilis), an endangered parrot, and high country sheep farmers in New Zealand. (#180)

Clio Reid 1 , Brett Gartrell 1 , Kevin Stafford 1 , Ed Minot 2
  1. Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  2. Institute of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmerstn North, New Zealand
Human-wildlife conflict is a growing global problem with considerable and varied impacts, e.g., on human livelihoods and endangered species, and is especially concentrated in agriculture. Although not a new problem, its conservation impacts only began to become apparent relatively recently. An unresolved example of such conflict is between kea (Nestor notabilis), an endangered high country parrot endemic to the South Island of New Zealand, and high country sheep farmers. Kea have been observed attacking sheep (a phenomenon referred to as “kea strike”) on high country farms since 1868. Kea strike can cause illness, injury and death in sheep and was the driver for a government bounty scheme lasting approximately 100 years, which resulted in the deaths of at least 150,000 kea and a large population decline leading to their current endangered status. Kea strike has not been well studied and is poorly understood, the literature being largely historical and/or anecdotal. Kea strike still occurs, and kea are still persecuted as a result despite their conservation status. To gain a scientific understanding of kea strike, we began by investigating historical accounts from a range of sources, including government records, newspapers, and books. This enabled us to examine the commonalities between high country sheep farmers’ historical accounts of kea strike, and to compare these to the experiences of farmers today. This information, in addition to other data we have collected on kea strike and wild kea behaviour, will be provided to conservation managers and high country sheep farmers to help inform their policies and practices where kea strike is still a problem. We anticipate that this will help to mitigate kea strike, and therefore assist kea conservation.