Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


One of New Zealand’s protected wood pigeons, the kererū, was killed in Napier over the long weekend.

Date:  24 October 2017

Kererū/New Zealand wood pigeon.
Kererū/New Zealand pigeon

A member of the public phoned DOC on Sunday after they found the young bird on the ground at Park Island.

When DOC Compliance Ranger Rod Hansen went to retrieve the bird, he noticed a large hole in its breast leading him to suspect the bird was shot.

"It is disappointing that this type of random slaughter of protected wildlife occurs," he said.

"It is totally unnecessary and extremely sad, especially as this is the third time this has happened here in Hawke's Bay in as many years."

It is an offence under the Wildlife Act to hurt or kill absolutely protected wildlife such as the kererū. If a person is caught doing so they could face up to two years in prison or a $100,000 fine or both.

This death comes in wake of the shooting deaths of four kererū at the Lake Mangamahoe Wildlife Sanctuary in the Taranaki Region earlier this month.

This earlier shooting is being investigated by the department after x-rays of the birds revealed that they had bullet fragments in them.

If any member of the public has any information about these shootings, or they notice any other suspicious or illegal activity, such as the killing of protected wildlife, they can report it confidentially to the 24-hour emergency hotline: 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Background information

  • Although still quite widespread in areas with large tracts of forest, kererū numbers are in gradual decline through habitat loss, predation, competition and illegal hunting.
  • The decline has been offset due to recovery on predator-free offshore islands, or from large-scale recovery at sites with widespread pest control.
  • Although the kererū was traditionally hunted for its meat and feathers, hunting the bird is now illegal.
  • In Northland, the kererū is in danger of becoming locally extinct through the combined effects of predation, competition and continued hunting.
  • Research by the Department of Conservation, Landcare Research, universities and other groups has found that the species is unlikely to cope with hunting pressure.
  • The most serious threat to the kererū comes from predators. Recent studies in several parts of the country have found that many nests produce no chicks at all. Rats, stoats, cats and possums eat their eggs and young.
  • Possums also compete with adult kererū for food (leaves, flowers, fruit) and devastate trees by consuming new shoots. Stoats and cats will attack and kill adult kererū. Forest clearance and poaching are also threats to its survival.
  • Since the extinction of the moa, the kererū and parea are now the only seed dispersers with a bill big enough to swallow large fruit, such as those of karaka, miro, tawa and taraire. The disappearance of these birds could be a disaster for the regeneration of our native forests.


Sophie Price
Community Ranger
Mobile: +64 27 582 1846

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