Bloated kererū hit by drivers

A Wellington man is calling on drivers to look up and see a potential native hazard.

The protected kererū are being severely injured or killed by drivers when they fly across the road - but conservationist Tony Stoddard believes he has a simple solution.

The kererū is the largest flying pigeon in the world.

It's a protected, native species but at least once a month Mr Stoddard is picking up dead birds hit by cars.

"Losing one kererū is completely tragic, every time I see one of these birds dead on the road is really heartbreaking," he says.

Wellington Zoo has treated as many as 66 kererū in the last year because of car and window strike.

Since 2005, the population of kererū in Wellington has steadily increased because of planting, pest control and the development of Zealandia ecosanctuary.

More birds in the city means more run-ins with cars and trucks.  Especially in leafy, urban areas like Karori, Wilton and Khandallah.

The hits happen when the birds fly from feasting site to resting site on the other side of the road.

"The problem is they are so heavy and once they have been gorging on the fruits of the tawa they get even heavier and they find it really hard to gain height so they can get out of the way," Mr Stoddard says.

So he designed a sign to alert drivers to the birds' flight. He's been asking the Council to consider installing them since 2013.

The Council says it supports the signs.

"You're never going to save all of them but if you can make people a little more aware of them it's a good thing," says Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster.

Mr Stoddard's says there's demand throughout the country for the signs.

For a nationwide roll out the NZ Transport Agency has to approve the design and be sure it will be effective.

Wellington City Council says it hopes to have a trial of the signs up in three to four months.


Tony Stoddard is asking for information of any Kereru injuries or deaths by vehicles throughout the country to be sent to him through the Kereru Discovery Facebook page.

It will help provide more accurate statistics on the problem and will help councils decide whether the signs are needed in various areas.