A baby kiwi has died after a distracted Department of Conservation (DoC) worker forgot to untie its legs before placing him in an underground burrow.
Brill the five-month-old kiwi was being released into the Tongariro forest by a volunteer in November when the accident occurred, Stuff reports.
While being supervised by an accredited kiwi handler, the volunteer forgot to remove the electrical tape immobilising Brill's legs before lowering him into the burrow.
He was found dead in the hole the next morning.
Tape is attached to the bird's legs during the release process to allow a transmitter to be fitted without the kiwi kicking the handler.
An Official Information Act (OIA) request found that kiwi had twice accidentally been released while bound in the last 12 years, but this was the first time it had been fatal.
DoC technical advisor Jess Scrimgeour told Stuff the department's Whakapapa village team were among the most experienced at releasing kiwi in the country.
"My reaction was one of surprise... the surprise mostly came out of knowing the staff and the trust involved," she said.
"They've built up that trust over years of experience."
DoC has now changed its policy so volunteers will no longer be allowed to release kiwi chicks.