Introduction

Two kiwi deaths in one week earlier this month serve as a reminder about the threat of dogs and motor vehicles to kiwi in Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Date:  22 June 2012

Two kiwi deaths in one week earlier this month serve as a reminder about the threat of dogs and motor vehicles to kiwi.

A pathology report on a kiwi found dead by locals in the foothills behind Opotiki earlier this month confirmed a dog attack as the cause of death.  While another kiwi from Whakatane died after being hit by a motor vehicle. 

This is a very disappointing as both kiwi were in good condition and suffered severe trauma says DOC Community/Biodiversity Ranger, Bridget Palmer

“Kiwi populations will die out unless positive action is taken to minimise deaths by dogs and motor vehicles.” 

“The majority of kiwi handed into the Department of Conservation (DOC) have been killed by dogs. Kiwi are extremely attractive to dogs. They smell really good, they run fast when chased and they can’t fly.  Because kiwi don’t have a breastbone, even a playful nudge can kill them.”

“Pet dogs can also kill kiwi, even dogs that are very placid in nature have been known to kill kiwi” says Ms Palmer.

Kiwi are also vulnerable to motor vehicles as they cross roads to neighbouring habitat.

Wairere, the two year old kiwi found on the side of the road just below Kohi Point last week is well known by Kiwi Project staff and volunteers. She was blessed at a ceremony held at Ohope Beach School on the 20th January 2011 and later released into Kohi Point.

“I knew it was only a matter time before one of our kiwi was hit by a car. I had hoped I would be wrong. It would be devastating if all the hard work undertaken during the last 11 years by Whakatane Kiwi Project partners and volunteers was undone because people didn’t take the Kiwi Crossing or Kiwi Zone signs seriously.”

“You can just hope that these deaths of our endangered national bird will help raise awareness and ensure the survival of other kiwi.”

The key is that dog owners need to be responsible and keep their pets on a lead. People need to understand that kiwi can be half a metre off the track or road sheltering under a bush.

Kiwi have a very strong scent so dogs can find them by day or night and they are defenceless against dogs. 

Hunting dogs on Public Conservation Land need to have completed Avian Aversion training and hunters also require a permit from DOC.

Hunters can have their dogs Avian Avoidance trained by Central Helicopters, Opotiki phone (07) 315 5617 to organise a time.  The Whakatane Kiwi Trust also runs Avian Aversion training days. Owners of a dog in rural areas adjacent to native bush should consider having their dogs trained in Avian Avoidance. 

Background information

BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust was established in November 2002 by Bank of New Zealand, the Department of Conservation and Forest & Bird, building on a sponsorship relationship that started in 1991.  BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust is responsible for public awareness and education, fundraising, sponsorship and grant allocations for kiwi recovery nationally. Nearly $6 million in funding grants has been provided in total since 2003. In 2011 more than $700,000 was allocated to community and DOC kiwi projects. This money came from Bank of New Zealand, its staff, customers and supporters of BNZ Save the Kiwi Trust.

There are several examples around the country that show how devastating dogs and cars can be on kiwi populations:

  • In the Northern Te Urewera National Park over 50% of a monitored kiwi population was killed by stray dogs.
  • Northland has the highest population of kiwis in the country. Despite that, the average lifespan of kiwis in the area is about 15 years, compared to 40 to 60 years in other parts of New Zealand. This is due to dog predation. Don Robertson, DOC's acting kiwi programme manager for Whangarei, said 80 per cent of adult kiwis deaths were caused by pet dogs every year - including 30 in Whangarei alone. He said kiwi made an ideal target for dogs because they were "nice smelling" and would run away when disturbed.
  • Several kiwi have been killed by cars in the Whakapapa Village after Kiwi Crossing signs have been continuously taken as souvenirs.
  • NZ Kiwi Foundation trustee and Doves Bay resident Ross Lockyer says more kiwi are now being killed by humans in this area than are killed by any other animal.
    “The terrible thing about what is happening to kiwi on the Kerikeri peninsular is that it is the only place in New Zealand where kiwi road kill is more of an issue than predators such as dogs, cats, rats and stoats,” he says. “In other words where humans kill more kiwi than other animals do.”

Contact

DOC Opotiki: +64 7 315 1001

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