Six kea have died in the Matukituki Valley near Wanaka following a recent aerial 1080 predator control operation according to the Department of Conservation (DOC).
DOC says they are currently awaiting post-mortem results to determine the cause of death of the native birds.
The birds were among 12 kea monitored by the Kea Conservation Trust to study the impact of predators, with six birds confirmed alive since the DOC operation on February 11.
"While we are confident that predator control operations benefit kea populations at large, it’s upsetting to lose six birds.
“We won’t know the cause of death until we get post-mortem and toxicology results back,” DOC Threats Director Amber Bill said.
DOC says research shows that kea populations are better off when aerial 1080 is used to control rats and stoats, with increased survival and nesting success.
“We are constantly trying to reduce the risk to individual kea by regularly reviewing our predator control and kea mitigation standards based on the best science available including new kea studies,” says Ms Bill.
Post-mortem results are expected later this week.