It is a busy time for the Whakatane Kiwi Project. It is halfway through the nesting season and every helping hand is appreciated – including a set of paws!
Bridget Evans, Project Manager for the Whakatane Kiwi Project has recruited her specially trained species dog for assistance. Tai, a six year old chocolate Labrador is a master tracker and is trained to indicate where kiwi burrows are.
“It is great having Tai on board to give me a hand some days” says Miss Evans. “Sometimes the burrows are in the middle of thick tree ferns, steep hillsides and pampas bushes – having Tai enables me to quickly hone in on the area the kiwi is located. Although Tai is muzzled at all times, she is trained to only ‘indicate’ which usually involves a furious wag of her tail – so she never actually touches the birds.
“You’ll easily recognise her because she has her own uniform, a bright orange vest and muzzle. Please don’t see Tai as an excuse to take your own family dog into one of our dog free reserves – she has undergone months of special training and is certified to be able to work in these dog free reserves.”
Miss Evans reminds people that taking your dog into one of Whakatane’s no dog zones can lead to $300 fines per dog found to be in these restricted areas. Having your dog on a lead and muzzled is not an excuse, neither is having your own dog kiwi aversion trained.
“Kiwi aversion training for dogs is aimed at hunters that take dogs into known kiwi areas and for landowners that live adjacent or nearby to areas of bush which might have kiwi living in there. Kiwi are incredibly mobile birds and as the population continues to grow around the Whakatane region the chances of having a kiwi on your back door step increase” says Miss Evans. “The scent of a kiwi is strong and irresistible to dogs and it only takes a moment for a dog to stick it’s nose into a burrow and break the back of a kiwi.”
With this in mind, the Whakatane Kiwi Trust is organising a kiwi aversion training session based at Matataua Reserve this Saturday, 14 November between 9.30 am and 4 pm. Bookings are essential and further info can be found through Opus Consultants on +64 7 308 0139. Training takes approximately 10 minutes per dog and costs $10 per family dog and $20 per hunting dog.