Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 39, 1906
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2. Mr. Ewan Cameron.
“Pembroke, 28th September, 1905.

“The first notice of keas killing sheep in Wanaka was in 1868 by James McDonald, head shepherd for Mr. Henry Campbell, owner of Wanaka Station at that time … Mr. Campbell wrote a letter to the Dunstan Times describing the destruction that keas were causing among his sheep, with the result that all the people in that part of the country laughed at him.

“In that year I was shepherding in the Crown Range, and after reading Mr. Campbell's letter I saw at once what was killing my sheep. The place of attack is nearly always on the loin, behind the last rib; they [keas] tear down to the kidney, pull out the entrails, and sometimes leave the sheep without killing it. It is a common thing for sheep to come into the yards with their entrails hanging over the side; also with new wounds, or old ones healed up.

“[As an instance of the ferocity of the keas, I may mention that] One season, at the head of the Matukituki, I had four hundred sheep that did not come in at the proper time for shearing. I put them in a safe place after snowfall at the beginning

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of winter: when I went to shift them on the 1st September [I found that] the keas had killed two hundred of them: a good many were devoured, and some not touched but with the usual wound above the kidneys.

“Rose Bros. had a run on the Matatapu, a continuation of the same range I was on. They mustered their sheep (about three thousand) in the beginning of winter, left them in a large mountain paddock at night, and next morning found thirty-five killed.

“They [the keas] do most of the damage at night. On another occasion, on my own run, a snowslide carried a sheep with it. I happened to be on the hill about the time it happened, and saw the sheep still alive but covered with snow except its nose and one hind leg: the uncovered leg was eaten to the bone, not a scrap [of flesh] left on it, and half a dozen keas fighting over it.”