DoC warns on kiwi risks

The slaughter of dozens of kiwi by a roaming dog in Northland is a reminder of the risks vulnerable kiwi populations face around the country, says the Department of Conservation.

DoC kiwi recovery group leader Avi Holzapfel said yesterday staff were trying to track a dog feared to have killed dozens of brown kiwi in a breeding reserve near Whangarei.

Launching the latest 10-year kiwi recovery plan, Mr Holzapfel said protection programmes had made significant moves toward halting the decline of kiwi populations in many parts of the country.

But he said overall the more numerous kiwi species were still in decline, and the recent dog attacks showed that even in protected areas, kiwi were not always safe.

Kiwi species such as the rare rowi, found near Okarito on the West Coast, and also the neighbouring Haast tokoeka, both with little over 300 birds, continued to teeter on the brink of extinction.

"One out-of-control dog or a jump in stoat numbers could spell disaster for species like the rowi and Haast tokoeka and we have to be vigilant to safeguard these vulnerable populations."

One of the goals of the new recovery plan was to double the number of rowi and Haast tokoeka to 600 birds each.

Other goals included halting the overall decline of great spotted kiwi, tokoeka and brown kiwi; increasing the population of little spotted kiwi by 50 per cent; and minimising the loss of distribution and genetic diversity of populations in the wild for all species of kiwi.

- NZPA

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