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


Dogs and their owners are being invited to participate in penguin and weka avoidance training in Hokitika as a part of Conservation Week on the 22 and 23 September.

Date:  12 September 2018

Training will be delivered by a qualified dog aversion specialist and uses a small electric shock to deter dogs from reacting to penguin or weka carcasses, nest material or scent. The training takes 15-20 minutes per dog.

Senior Ranger Fiona Anderson, who has organised the training, says that pet dogs can wreak havoc on penguins and penguin deaths by dogs continue to occur. “One dog can wipe out an entire colony.  Dogs are curious and the strong smell of penguins can be irresistible to their sensitive noses.  It’s only natural for dogs to be interested in a moving target.

“Dogs are also a major predator of our flightless weka. We are lucky to have good numbers of weka on the West Coast.  These charismatic birds are often found around people, making mischief moving shoes off back porches and sneaking dog food from the bowl. Unfortunately, weka are not as robust as they appear, and have become extinct over most of New Zealand. This has been attributed in part to predation by ferrets, stoats and dogs.”

Within a year of the initial training, dogs are invited back to test for learned avoidance. If the dog shows an interest in the lure, it's re-trained and invited back for testing next year. It can take multiple training sessions before a dog consistently demonstrates avoidance.

Dog owners wanting to register can email with their preferred booking time between 9.00 am and 4.30 pm on either Saturday 22 September or Sunday 23 September. $20 per dog is required to cover the cost of the facilitator.

Conservation Week runs from 15-23 September. With the theme “Conservation Week is Calling”, DOC is encouraging people to get involved in conservation-related activities during the week and find out how they can help turn around loss of our unique biodiversity.

Check out for more information about events in the region.


Fiona Anderson, Senior Ranger Biodiversity
Mobile: +64 27 570 3832

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