Making it an offence to feed kea was just one of the many ideas put forward at the first Kea Konvention, held during the weekend to discuss how to stop the decline of kea in the wild.

Organised by the Kea Conservation Trust and sponsored by Federated Mountain Clubs, 99 delegates from around the country met at Arthurs Pass for two days of presentations and workshops, and to draft a recovery plan for the South Island endemic alpine parrot.

Department of Conservation director for operations, eastern South Island, Andy Roberts said control of predators and ensuring the habitat was good was the general rule for species recovery in New Zealand but kea had additional risks.

He said keas were a highly intelligent and inquisitive species living in a human adapted environment, and that could lead to misadventure and poisoning from eating toxins in the environment.


''Educating the public not to feed kea was another issue and there may be some powers under the Wildlife Act that we could use to make it an offence to feed kea, but I'm not sure if prosecuting a few would change the behaviour of what others do,'' he said.

Otago Fish and Game officer Paul van Klink presented a paper on anecdotal evidence of the decline of the kea.

He said saving kea was a complex issue, much more than saving kiwi.

''Saving kiwis was about predator control and that included dogs, but with kea you've even got to make sure the predator traps are kea-proof. One was killed in a trap just two weeks ago.''

Mr van Klink heard reports of kea being caught in nearly every project carrying out predator control in a kea habitat and recommended more field testing of traps.

At the end of the Konference a draft kea recovery plan was submitted to the Department of Conservation but Mr Roberts said it could take up to a year to implement as it would require further community and scientific input.

''However, the Konference showed there was a groundswell and a willingness by New Zealanders to get involved in saving the kea,'' he said.