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NZ native birds in 'desperate situation'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/05/2017

The kea and whio are in danger of becoming extinct says a report issued on Wednesday that paints a dire picture of the future of New Zealand's native bird population.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright's report, Taonga of an island nation: Saving New Zealand's birds, concludes that 32 per cent of our native birds are "in a desperate situation".

Of our 168 native bird species, 20 per cent are considered to be "doing ok", according to the report, while 48 per cent are in "some trouble" and the remainder in "serious trouble".

"A third are in danger of becoming extinct and this includes the kea - the only alpine parrot in the world," Dr Wright says.

"Others are the wrybill - the only bird in the world with a beak that curves to the side - and the whio, a duck that paddles through rough water like a white water kayaker."

Ninety-three per cent of New Zealand's bird species are found in no other country.

Dr Wright says the Government's aim of eradicating all dangers to native birds, like rats and stoats, by 2050, is worthy but more money and an urgent plan of action is needed.

More sustained predator control and controlling a burgeoning feral cat population must occur, she said.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry faced questions from the Greens in parliament, and said the report's findings were broadly in line with DoC's assessment released two weeks ago.

"The government is under no illusions whatsoever about the danger our native birds are in," she said, listing the actions DoC was taking.

Greens' co-leader Metiria Turei asked her why the government had cut DoC's funding "in real terms" by $422 million since 2009.

Ms Barry said Ms Turei didn't understand much about the budget process.

"The increase in spending in DoC is $107m this year, it has been 20 per cent since 2008," she said.

"The member's wilful misrepresentation of the figures is pretty pathetic."

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