Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Adult kiwi savaged by small dog

A Kiwi that has arrived at Auckland Zoo for treatment after it was attacked by a fox terrier dog in the Coromandel last Thursday. Photo / Dean Purcell
A Kiwi that has arrived at Auckland Zoo for treatment after it was attacked by a fox terrier dog in the Coromandel last Thursday. Photo / Dean Purcell

An adult kiwi is battling for its life after being savaged by a dog - sparking a plea for dog owners to keep their canines away from areas with the endangered birds.

The kiwi, nicknamed Jo, was attacked by a small fox terrier that was tagging along on a day-time hunting expedition in native forest south of Coromandel town.

It suffered bite and puncture wounds, as well as severe bruising.

A hunter took the wounded bird to a vet in Coromandel, where it was driven to the Department of Conservation (DOC) office in Thames, and then on to Auckland Zoo.

An Pas, a vet at the zoo, said Jo was stable but its future remained uncertain.

"This kiwi is not out of the woods yet. Our key area of concern is the severity of tissue damage that may be present internally, which we're reassessing today."

Thames-based DOC ranger Christine Friis said the attack showed that a dog of any size could potentially kill kiwi, and dogs were the biggest killer of adult kiwi.

"Your dog can be well behaved and docile until it comes in contact with a kiwi. Dogs are attracted to the smell of a kiwi, and it takes just a few seconds for them to grab and kill."

DOC is helping to provide free kiwi aversion training on the Coromandel over the holidays.

Executive director of Kiwis for Kiwi, Michelle Impey, said the hunter should be applauded for bringing the injured kiwi in for treatment.

"We are pleading with dog owners to keep their dogs out of areas where kiwi live this summer. If that's not possible, ensure your dog is kept on a lead while in a region with kiwi."

Ms Impey said dogs remain the biggest threat to adult kiwi, particularly in areas like Northland, Coromandel, Taranaki and Te Urewera National Park.

"Kiwi do not have wing muscles to protect them, so a kiwi's chest can easily be crushed. Any dog can kill a kiwi in seconds, simply by picking it up in its mouth.

''... the reality is a single roaming dog can wipe out an entire kiwi population in a matter of days,'' Ms Impey said.

Help kiwi these holidays

# Do your research - find out if there are kiwi where you live or are visiting.

# Best option is to leave your dog behind.

# Otherwise ensure dogs are under control at all times - inside a kennel or on a leash.

# If you find an injured or dead kiwi, contact your local DOC office or ring its hotline - 0800HOTDOC (0800 362 468)

# For more information on kiwi avoidance training: www.kiwisforkiwi.org/what-we-do/how-were-saving-kiwi/avoidance-training-for-dogs/

- NZ Herald

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