The Department of Conservation (DOC) is urging people to keep their dogs under control after the death of a kiwi on conservation land in Taranaki.
The female North Island brown kiwi was found by off-duty DOC Biodiversity Ranger, Joe Carson, and her family while exploring the Pouiatoa Conservation Area in North Taranaki.
They had been following dog and boot prints along a track when they found a pile of kiwi feathers, then saw where the bird had been thrown down a bank. The kiwi had been attacked by a dog and had bite marks along its body.
“It’s just so disappointing to see a large egg carrying female taken out of the population. In the wild, kiwi only have a 5% chance of survival to adulthood. This big, beautiful female bird had beaten the odds and survived only to be taken out by a dog. It’s an entirely avoidable death,” said Ms Carson.
Dog owners are required to put their dogs through kiwi aversion training and get a permit before entering conservation land.
“If dog owners take their dogs through kiwi aversion training and keep their dogs under control the chances of this happening would be greatly reduced,” she said.
“No-one wants to be that person whose dog killed a kiwi.”
Community conservation group, Experience Pūrangi, has an extensive trapping network in the Pouiatoa Conservation Area, helping protect kiwi and kōkako from rats and stoats. Experience Pūrangi Conservation Manager, Kat Strang says it is always hard whenever a kiwi dies but losing an adult breeding kiwi really sets the population back.
“That female could have produced four chicks this year, and again next year, and so on, but we’ve lost that from this population now. Our team works hard trying to remove invasive predators from the habitat so our kiwi have a fighting chance, and to lose a kiwi in a way that could have been easily prevented, is incredibly disappointing and one that hits hard,” she said.
Dog owners may be issued a fine of up to $800 or prosecuted if they take any dog into a no-access area, take unpermitted dogs into the Pouiatoa Conservation Area, or breach the conditions of their permit. No dogs are allowed in Egmont National Park.
Charges can also be filed under the Dog Control Act where there is evidence dogs have killed kiwi. The maximum penalty the court can hand down in these cases is a $20,000 fine or up to three years in jail, and an order for the dogs to be destroyed.
Anyone who sees roaming dogs on public conservation land is urged to report it to 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).
People interested in Kiwi Aversion training for their dogs can phone DOC Ngāmotu/New Plymouth 06 7590350.