Kiwi conservators make plea to dog owners

Holidaymakers urged to train their dogs not to kill kiwi

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 12:03 10/12/2012
NEW TRICKS: A dog undergoes kiwi avoidance training on the Coromandel.
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NEW TRICKS: A dog undergoes kiwi avoidance training on the Coromandel.

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Kiwi protection groups across the Coromandel Peninsula are urging holidaymakers to train their dogs not to kill kiwi before heading to the region this summer.

They say without the right precautions visiting dogs could slay kiwi after precious kiwi.

The area's brown kiwi population is now about 1500.

They owe their survival to the combined efforts of more than 12 community kiwi groups, landowners, private companies and the Department of Conservation, who have undertaken predator control over more than 50,000 hectares of private and public conservation land.

In a combined statement, the groups said: "If you live near a place where wild kiwi live, or are visiting the Coromandel, you can help us protect our kiwi by making sure dogs are tied up at night, and in sight or tied up during the day.

"If you're in the bush, keep your dog on a lead at all times."

Free kiwi avoidance training for dogs is also available around the Coromandel throughout January. It works by giving dogs a dead kiwi (or soft toy kiwi with a kiwi scent) to smell, while at the same time giving them a small electric shock through a collar. Anyone interested should contact DOC for details.

Moehau Environment Group co-ordinator Natalie Collicott said kiwi had no chance against a hound.

"A dog can catch and kill a kiwi in seconds, without its owner knowing about it or before its owner has time to stop it," she said.

Research shows that any sized animal can be deadly.

Indeed, smaller breeds such as terriers are the most likely offenders.

The worst known case was in Waitangi Forest in 1987 when one roaming dog was thought to have killed more than 500 of the 900 kiwi living in the forest. Nationally, the kiwi is in trouble and at risk of becoming extinct in the wild.

Of eggs that hatch, an estimated 90 per cent of kiwi chicks are dead within six months and most of those are killed by stoats, dogs or cats.

Ms Collicott said due to responsible dog ownership and years of stoat trapping on the Coromandel, things were looking more positive.

"We have the highest survival rate for kiwi chicks on the mainland and our adult kiwi in managed areas are breeding. Please help protect our kiwi this summer."

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- Waikato Times

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