Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Warning after wild kiwi killed by dog

Seasprite pilot Lieutenant Alex Trotter, Chief Petty Officer Helicopter Crewman Nathan Tamihana and Helicopter Observer Lieutenant Mark Sharples with a kiwi
Seasprite pilot Lieutenant Alex Trotter, Chief Petty Officer Helicopter Crewman Nathan Tamihana and Helicopter Observer Lieutenant Mark Sharples with a kiwi

A dog has killed a male kiwi that was living in the wild just north of Wellington.

The kiwi, named Otautahi, was released into the Rimutaka Forest Park in July 2012 and had been monitored by volunteer trackers since then, Rimutaka Forest Park Trust spokeswoman Melody McLaughlin said.

"He was important to the population as he was a young male of breeding age, and was probably killed while searching for a mate."

Greater Wellington Regional Council, which manages the adjoining Wainuiomata Water Collection and Recreation Areas, will provide more signs in the area to remind dog walkers of their responsibilities.

"Kiwi are synonymous with what makes us New Zealanders, they are resilient birds provided we control introduced predators such as stoat and ferret and man's best friend, our dogs," Ms McLaughlin said.

"If the dog had been kept on a lead Otautahi would still be alive."

Kiwis frequently nest near paths, putting them in harm's way and making them vulnerable to dogs, she said.

Otautahi was found beside the track leading into the Recreation Area, where dogs are often walked.

"Most owners would never expect a kiwi to be around paths or their dog to be capable of killing one, but the reality is a kiwi's scent is irresistible to dogs, and kiwi cannot escape them.

"Owners need to know where their dogs are at all times and keep them inside or contained at night," Ms Mclaughlin said.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Parks Manager Amanda Cox said the forest was the only place near urban Wellington where kiwis exist in the wild.

"We need dog walkers to help us look after kiwis, take note of the signs and keep their dogs on leads at all times in the Wainuiomata Recreation Area. Some people don't and have been used to letting their dogs run free but we think keeping kiwis safe is worth it."

The kiwi, a three old male, was born in Christchurch a week after the February 2011 earthquake and given the Maori name for Christchurch, Otautahi.

"His death will be a loss to the region's natural environment and to the memory of the Christchurch earthquake. It's such a sad end," Ms McLaughlin said.

- APNZ

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