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Kaka numbers rebound in Fiordland forest

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/03/2017

South Island kaka have made an extraordinary comeback in a Fiordland forest since pest control started just over a decade ago, the Department of Conservation says.

The turnaround is shown in a study of the parrot population in Waitutu Forest in 2005-2007 and again last year.

DOC says kaka in the remote lowland area in the mid-2000s were being ravaged by stoats and possums.

Female birds and chicks were the prime victims as they nested, and monitoring showed that males outnumbered females by six to one.

A population sample taken last December indicated that female kaka have rebounded - the margin had dropped to 1.7 times more males - and young birds were on the rise again.

Scientist Terry Greene, who was involved in the sampling both times, says the result is phenomenal.

"The proportion of female kaka has increased almost four-fold since the last survey and juvenile kaka by a factor of 20," he said.

"We knew that kaka were recovering, but to find such strong evidence was hugely satisfying."

South Island kaka are found from Nelson down the West Coast to Fiordland and Stewart Island and the sub-species is classed as "nationally vulnerable".

DOC says pest control at the 45,000ha Waitutu Forest has included localised trapping and poisoning for stoats and possums.

There have also been three aerial treatments of 1080 over up to 30,000ha when pest numbers have been high because of forest seeding.

Annual bird counts at over 700 points in the forest also show an increase in other forest birds such as robin and kakariki.

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