Thursday, 5 April 2012

Lead's lethal lure for curious kea

The curiosity of kea is putting the native parrot at risk of lead poisoning, according to new research.
Endemic to South Island hill country, kea are known to pick and pull at objects with their beaks.
However, research published by the New Zealand Journal of Ecology has found the kea habit of eating lead-head roof nails and flashings is putting the rare bird at risk of lead poisoning.
A survey of the parrots in seven South Island locations - Fox Glacier/Franz Josef area, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, Golden Bay, Hohonu Range, Arawhata Valley, Rob Roy Valley and Treble Cone ski field - found all keas tested in populated areas had elevated lead levels.
According to the study, undertaken by researchers from the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre at Massey University, 64 per cent of kea in populated areas had blood lead levels high enough to cause poisoning and 22 per cent had elevated levels.
Those in populated areas had significantly higher levels than those in remote areas.

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