Kill Sign

Predators might be stealthy but they often leave behind uneaten remains of their bird, egg, small mammal, reptile or insect victims. Likely killers can be identified from the type of prey, the way it was killed and eaten, and the location of the kill sign. Kill sign isn't the most clear-cut way to identify a predatory animal pest, though, so look for other clues as well, such as footprints or droppings.

Be aware that predators native to New Zealand, as well as introduced predators, might leave kill sign. There are three native birds of prey – the New Zealand falcon, the swamp harrier and the morepork. Other native birds that are partially predatory include: black-backed gulls, kea, skua and weka. All these birds may prey on small animals, including other birds, introduced mammals, lizards, frogs and insects, and some are also scavengers. See New Zealand Birds Online for more information.

Remember that animal or egg remains might have been scavenged after the initial kill – and not necessarily by the same species. Most pest predators will scavenge, as will some of the predators native to New Zealand. See some possible examples of scavenging.

Scavenging is difficult to distinguish from kill sign but look nearby for other signs, such as footprints or droppings, that might help identify the predator or the scavenger. A scavenger may still be attracted to the corpse so keep an eye out for the animal itself.

Narrow your search to specific types of Kill Sign:

Fur, feathers or scales (vertebrate)

Insects or snails (invertebrate)