Man who killed 'noisy' kea at construction site sentenced to community work

Source: 1News

A man who killed a kea bird has been sentenced to community work in Nelson District Court.

Forest and Bird estimate less than 7000 kea remain.

Stephen Frost, 46, was sentenced today to 150 hours of community work on charges of unlawfully hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife, namely a kea, and of disposing of the kea without authority, in breach of the Wildlife Act 1953.

He pleaded guilty to the charges.

The offence of hunting or killing absolutely protected wildlife carries a maximum penalty of up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

In a statement,the Department of Conservation (DOC) say the court was told, that despite being aware of the protected status of kea, Mr Frost had been seen throwing objects at kea on a number of occasions, which he said was to scare them away, and shouting at them and generally displaying hostility towards them.

Kea were frequently seen in the area of the Motueka Valley construction site where Mr Frost worked and had caused some damage to equipment.

On July 18, last year kea were being noisy on the roof of a shipping container so Mr Frost threw a 30cm solid wooden builder’s peg at a kea, knocking the kea off the shipping container.

He then stood on the injured kea’s head which he said he did to put it out of its misery. The kea died as a result of its injuries.

Mr Frost wrapped the dead kea in a sheet of black plastic and put it in a skip bin.

DOC say it welcomed the conviction of the Richmond man for killing a kea.

The case was an important reminder that killing legally-protected kea is unacceptable, they say.

"Kea have a conservation status of nationally endangered with their numbers estimated to be less than 5000 – a fraction of what their numbers once were. They need our help to ensure their survival," DOC Motueka operations manager Mark Townsend said.

"If people are concerned about kea behaviour around their property or work site they should contact the Department of Conservation or the Kea Conservation Trust," Mr Townsend said.

"The Kea Conservation Trust has a Conflicts Resolution Co-ordinator based in Nelson Tasman and runs a programme to provide practical help on kea proofing property and work sites. It also advises on how to avoid kea hanging around."