Date: 29 May 2012
Four local Russell dogs and their owners have become more ‘weka wise’ by attending a weka aversion training course recently.
Held in Matauwhi Bay Reserve, Russell, the short session with each dog was designed to help the dogs avoid weka in the future.
Ilva’s owner Heather Lindauer says, “The training was successful because next morning on a walk my dog saw a weka, stopped, pointed, but did not attempt to ‘engage’.”
Pete Graham, Kiwi Ranger (DOC Whangarei) who ran the course says, “It was great to see dog owners showing an awareness of weka in their area and the threat their dogs potentially pose to these (and other) ground-dwelling birds.”
Pete says, “It’s really important that the owners of dogs remember that avian aversion training should never take the place of good dog control, and that they need to continue displaying good dog management after the training just like they did prior to the training.”
DOC Bay of Islands Community Relations Ranger, Helen Ough Dealy, says “Over the last 25 years North Island weka numbers have fallen nationally from 100,000 to about 7000. The majority of the remaining birds are on Kawau Island. North Island weka are much rarer than kiwi and Russell is probably the only place with both kiwi and weka making their home here. Weka are a ‘boom or bust’ type of bird. They have already died out on the Russell Peninsula twice before. No-one’s quite sure why they have died out in the past – possibly predators such as stoats and roaming dogs; possibly dry summers with little food; maybe a combination of various factors. The current population was reintroduced by Russell Landcare Trust in 2002 from a Forest & Bird captive breeding programme that was closing down. From the 39 original birds there are now estimated to be about 1500 living in amongst the Russell, Te Wahapu Tapeka and Okiato communities as well as spread out across the Russell Peninsula.”
Pete says: “If you are a dog owner, the best way that you can help ground-dwelling birds such as weka and kiwi is to not allow your dog to roam, report roaming dogs to the council, keep your dog under control at all times.”
This initial weka aversion training session will be followed up with a refresher one in about six months time.
Helen says, “If any Russell Peninsula dog owners are interested in having their dog’s weka aversion trained, please give me a call on +64 9 403 9006 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”