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Parrot Disease Could Wipe Out Kakapo

October 25, 2002 - Wellington


Parrot disease could wipe out kakapo.

Forest and Bird is calling on the government to end the importation of exotic parrots after news that exotic parrots were imported with a disease that could wipe out kakapo, kea and kaka.

MAF today announced an operation to eradicate psitticine pox (parrot pox), a disease that kills parrots, from three aviaries in Auckland. Up to 100 birds may already have died from the disease. The disease is spread by contact between parrots and by biting insects like mosquitoes.

"The situation is extremely serious. If this disease gets into the wild, it could spell the end of the kakapo. A high proportion of our kea, kaka and kakariki (native parakeets) could also die," Forest and Bird Biosecurity Awareness Officer Geoff Keey said.

"MAF's assessment shows that kakapo could be wiped out completely by this parrot pox. If this disease gets into the wild it will be a disaster for conservation in New Zealand, Geoff Keey said"

"Forest and Bird welcomes action by MAF to clean up these sites", he said.

"New Zealanders all celebrated when 24 kakapo chicks were born this year: after all, there is only 86 kakapo left in the world. Birds like kakapo and kea have a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders and are beautiful icons of New Zealand conservation. This virus puts them at risk," Geoff Keey said.

"A Department of Conservation report indicates that the parrot pox is only one of 24 diseases that could affect New Zealand's native parrots. It's time to ban the import of exotic parrots into New Zealand," Geoff Keey said.

"New Zealand's native parrots are too special and too vulnerable to be put at risk by further imports of exotic parrots. We simply don't know what they may bring in with them," Geoff Keey said.

"MAF is doing the right thing by isolating and decontaminating the aviaries where the disease has been found. But that is only a first step. The government must make sure that no more diseases like this enter New Zealand and that means stopping parrot imports", Geoff Keey said.


Note: Risk Assessment and list of parrot diseases available on request.

Contact: Geoff Keey, Biosecurity Awareness Officer, 04 385 7374, 025 622 7369 Eric Pyle, Conservation Manager Tel. 04 385 7374, 025 227 8420

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