Introduction

One of the Department of Conservation's ‘dog friendly’ campsites in the Kauaeranga Valley was the site of a wananga (place of learning) for dogs to learn about avoiding kiwi in the bush.

Date:  01 February 2012

One of the Department of Conservation's (DOC) ‘dog friendly’ campsites in the Kauaeranga Valley was the site of a wananga (place of learning) for dogs to learn about avoiding kiwi in the bush.

Toby investigates the 'lure' while owner Hayden looks on.
Toby investigates the 'lure' while owner Hayden looks on 

As part of the Kauaeranga Valley Summer Programme, dogs on holiday with their owners in the Booms Flat campsite were invited to attend the wananga with DOC biodiversity ranger Alistair Douglas. Kiwi Avoidance Training or KAT is the method used by DOC to train dogs to leave kiwi alone.

It involves using an electric collar and ‘lure’ – usually taxidermied (stuffed) kiwi and kiwi bedding (leaves and twigs from an actual kiwi burrow). When the dog investigates the lure, it is corrected by an electric pulse emitted from the collar. Most dogs quickly learn to avoid kiwi following this experience.

Toby gets fitted with the electric collar.
Toby gets fitted with the electric collar
“This method is not a guarantee against your dog killing kiwi, but we believe it helps,” said Alistair. “You still need to exercise control and care when taking your dogs into kiwi country,” he added.

Toby, a one year old black labrador was first to go through the training. He investigated the lure, was corrected and showed aversion. Toby’s owner, Hayden Duffin was pleased with the result. “Because of the difference in the smell of kiwi and other bird species, Toby will be able to avoid kiwi, but still be useful as a hunting dog during the game bird season,” he commented.

To enrol your dog in KAT, contact the Coromandel Field Centre on +64 7 866 1100.

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