Testing has shown a kea found dead after a 1080 poison drop in the Okarito kiwi sanctuary actually died from chocolate poisoning.
Two other kea chicks remain unaccounted for, but the Department of Conservation says they may have been killed by pests, or fledged.
DOC did not intend to do any kea monitoring before or after the poison operation in south Okarito forest - despite the poisoning of at least seven radio-tagged kea in a drop in north Okarito forest in 2011 - until pressured by local iwi, Te Runanga o Makaawhio.
In 2011, 1080 killed seven kea near Franz Josef Glacier and Okarito.
Limited monitoring was undertaken in the forest, and the birds were not radio-tagged this time. However, one carcass was found after the September drop, but this time chocolate was the culprit.
A DOC spokesman said four active kea nests were monitored through the operation, until the first heavy rain. Once it rains, kea are no longer vulnerable to the danger posed from eating 1080 bait, as the toxin leaches out of the bait and is broken down by bacteria in the soil.
All of the eight adult kea that were monitored as part of the operation were still alive at the end. Twelve chicks were observed in total at the start of the observation period, and at the end, 10 chicks were observed.
"The two chicks that were unaccounted for were presumed to have fledged or may have been predated," DOC said.
On the day of the 1080 operation a female kea that had been dead a couple of days was found. Testing revealed that bird had been poisoned by chocolate -- no traces of 1080 were found. It was the second recorded case of chocolate poisoning.
DOC said that was a good reminder of why it was important not to feed kea.
"Feeding kea leads to problem behaviours for these intelligent parrots, and eating human food may lead to their ill health or death. "Kea appear to be at higher risk of dying from 1080 poisoning at sites where they are exposed to human activity, which is another reason to avoid kea interactions with human food."
- Greymouth Star