An adult female Northland brown kiwi was caught in a leghold trap near Waipapa township four weeks ago. The bird was taken to Whangarei Bird Recovery and was successfully released back into its home territory last week by the landowner and Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers.
Adrian Walker, DOC Senior Ranger, Bay of Islands says, "This bird was lucky. Most kiwi caught in traps have to be euthanised. We've had at least two other kiwi caught in leghold traps in the mid north in the recent past and that's two kiwi too many."
A Northland brown kiwi caught in a leghold trap
High possum fur prices and access to cheap leghold traps have led to an increase in possum trappers. Decreasing possum numbers is great news for protection of native forests; however, commonly used leghold traps set on the ground in kiwi areas pose a significant risk to kiwi.
Adrian says, "Thoughtless trapping such as this can undo many years of hard work done by many dedicated locals to protect kiwi. I urge all trappers to raise their possum leghold traps at least 70 centimetres above the ground, put in ramps from the ground leading to the trap and use a flour lure to attract the possum to the trap. These measures will help avoid catching kiwi."
If a kiwi is accidently caught in a possum trap, contact the local DOC office or the Native Bird Recovery Centre in Whangarei so that the kiwi can receive medical attention. Landowners with kiwi should ensure that trappers follow safe kiwi trapping practices by insisting trappers use raised trap techniques. Permits need to be obtained if operating on public conservation land.
For more information on trapping, contact your local DOC or Regional Council Office.
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.
Kiwis for kiwiTM
- Is the trading name of The Kiwi Trust. Established in October 2012, it continues more than two decades of work by BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust to help protect kiwi and the places they live.
- Raises and distributes funds to community, DOC and volunteer groups helping save kiwi throughout the country.
- Works in partnership with DOC with a vision to take kiwi from endangered to everywhere.
BNZ Operation Nest EggTM 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 1 kg, big enough to fight off these predators. More than 2,000 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 successve.