Date: 18 April 2012
Morepork and kea are the latest victims of speeding vehicles on the Milford Highway. The Department of Conservation (DOC) has picked up ten morepork and two kea killed by vehicles on the Milford Highway this summer.
Morepork are particularly vulnerable to traffic deaths as they perch near the road at night seeking potential prey and often fly up into the headlights of cars.
“This is the highest number of morepork deaths caused by vehicles in Fiordland National Park since I started work here 15 years ago”, said DOC scientist Moira Pryde.
DOC has been researching morepork breeding in the Eglinton Valley since 2008. This research has shown that breeding can be quite erratic but this season has been identified as the best in four years with most monitored female morepork raising two chicks. In the previous three breeding seasons no chicks were known to survive. The thirteen chicks produced this year will be a boost to the population who have suffered poor breeding years and road-related deaths.
Meanwhile kea – the mountain parrot that entertains visitors at various locations along the Milford road – are also falling victim to the road, with two juveniles killed by vehicles near Monkey Creek in December.
Kea are most vulnerable near car parking areas along the alpine section of the road where some tourists, including tour buses, feed the kea encouraging them to hang around on the roadside in the way of traffic. DOC would like to remind visitors that kea must not be fed and drivers need to take extra care around the Monkey Creek, Pop’s View and the Homer Tunnel areas.
Speed is definitely a factor contributing to the deaths of native birds along the Milford Road and staff based in the area say there have been several reported near misses. DOC advise motorists travelling in the forested and alpine areas of the road to take extra caution especially when travelling at night. The public are asked to report any dead native birds to the Te Anau Area Office.