After the Europeans came, the Kea was seen as a destructive pest who would even attack sheep. Farmers were allowed to shoot them on sight and at one time there was a bounty put on them. When their population plunged from 200,000 counted down to 5,000, the government put them under partial protection and removed the bounty. Finally, when their population failed to rebound appropriately, they were listed as endangered birds and have been completely protected since 1986. Their numbers are finally rebounding, albeit not rapidly. A side , which shows again the support of the New Zealanders for conservation, involves the placement of the kea in specially protected status. Before the regulation was even approved, a large majority of New Zealander farmers and sheepherders voted to voluntarily abstain from killing keas that troubled their property. Instead, DOC and the farmers groups agreed to work with each other to remove bothersome birds from their farms and sheep stations. Now the farmer who has a problem kea calls DOC and their personnel come out and trap the wily bird and relocate him to his natural habitat up in the high mountain areas. Isn’t this an encouraging story about the Kiwi attitude towards preserving their native species? Seeing this merry bird jumping on cars, trucks, people’s boots, their heads, grabbing things out of human hands, and generally making a clown and even a pest of himself was a wonderful way to say goodbye to New Zealand because we know that even this often pesky creature is protected by the New Zealanders themselves who stand behind the wonderful work DOC does to save and protect the native animal, birds and plants here.
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