Worryingly high numbers of kiwi have been killed by a dog or dogs around Kerikeri over the last two months.
At least seven kiwi have now been found dead in the Wharau Road area, east of Kerikeri, between May 20 and July 8.
Massey University vets have confirmed that the first two kiwi found were killed by dogs. The other dead birds also have injuries consistent with dog attacks.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Far North District Council (FNDC) are working with the local community to identify any uncontrolled dogs in the area.
FNDC General Manager of District Services Dean Myburgh says the council deplores the killing of kiwi and its animal control services are always available to help apprehend dogs that are a danger to New Zealand’s iconic native bird.
FNDC Animal Control Officers have been assisting DOC with their enquiries and have, through property checks, accounted for about 15 new dogs. Officers have also spoken to several dog owners in the area, and set a live capture dog trap in the Wharau Road area to prevent further dog attacks on kiwi.
“I would urge anyway who sees a dog that is threatening kiwi to call +64 9 401 5200 or our 24 hour service line 0800 920 029 and we will dispatch animal control staff to apprehend the dog,” says Dean Myburgh.
Mike Thompson, spokesperson for the South Kerikeri Inlet Landcare (SKIL) kiwi conservation group: “We work hard controlling pests to create a habitat in which our kiwi can survive and thrive. Our group is extremely disappointed that an uncontrolled dog, or dogs, has been allowed to devastate our healthy population of breeding kiwi.”
“Bay of Islands residents are fortunate to have kiwi right on our doorstep. We have passionate individuals who really care about these kiwi. But we can only do so much. Your dog is your responsibility. Simple,” says Mike Thompson.
DOC Bay of Islands Services Manager Rolien Elliot: “Kiwi are a living treasure, they aren’t found anywhere else in the world. It’s DOC’s role to protect these taonga and we are doing everything we can to identify the dog or dogs responsible. Any dog can kill a kiwi, and it’s well documented that the main cause of death to adult kiwi in Northland is dogs. This is about responsible pet ownership. If you live in a kiwi zone, and you own a dog, tie it up.”
Michelle Impey, Executive Director of Kiwis for kiwi, the national charity that supports community-led kiwi conservation projects says dog attacks on kiwi are extremely frustrating as they’re totally preventable.
“All across New Zealand we’re fighting a battle in the bush, trying to knock down pest and predator numbers so that kiwi have a good chance of survival. An uncontrolled dog undoes all that good work. The solution is in our hands, dog owners have to control their dogs in areas where kiwi live. Or even better, keep their dogs out of kiwi zones,” says Michelle Impey.
Established in October 2012, Kiwis for kiwi continues more than two decades of work by BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust to help protect kiwi and the places they live. Kiwis for kiwi raises and distributes funds to community, DOC and volunteer groups helping save kiwi throughout the country.
Our national icon – the kiwi – is under siege from stoats, dogs, cats, rats and loss of habitat. Just one hundred years ago, there were more than a million kiwi roaming throughout New Zealand. Today there are less than 70,000. Without urgent action, kiwi numbers will continue to fall with the risk that they will disappear in the wild.
BNZ Operation Nest Egg is a powerful tool to reverse the decline of kiwi populations. Eggs and chicks are harvested from nests to save them from stoats and feral cats. The young kiwi are returned to the wild when they weight about 1kg, big enough to fight off these predators. More than 2000 kiwi chicks have been returned to the wild since its inception in 1994, with captive facilities and hundreds of field workers from DOC and community groups throughout the country contributing to its success.
Kiwis for kiwi works in partnership with DOC, with a vision to take kiwi from endangered to everywhere.
For more information about how you can help save kiwi, visit www.kiwisforkiwi.org.