A joint effort to save kiwi from dogs

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Eight kiwi that were killed by dogs at Hihi over recent months.
Eight kiwi that were killed by dogs at Hihi over recent months.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) and the Hihi-Taemaro community are joining forces in a bid to prevent dogs from killing kiwi in the area.

Eight kiwi, all killed by dogs, have been found by members of the Whakaangi Landcare Trust, which is working to protect kiwi on the Hihi Peninsula over recent months. And it's not a new phenomenon.

"In the last two years the Hihi-Taemaro locals have found 26 kiwi savaged to death by dogs," DoC Kaitaia operations manager David Neho said.

"It's heart-breaking to find kiwi killed by dogs because we know these deaths can be prevented if dog owners keep their dogs under control at all times.

"Dogs are the No 1 killers of kiwi in Northland. Any dog, of any size, will kill a kiwi if the owner does not keep it under control.

"We need all owners to ensure their dog is kept under control at all times. If dogs are left to roam, they will kill kiwi."

Sandra Heihei (Ahikaa Taemaro Papakainga) said kiwi were living all over the Hihi Peninsula, and every one of them was at risk from uncontrolled dogs.

"The kiwi in this area have living spots all around, not staying in one area but feeding, sleeping and mating in all parts of Whakaangi, Hihi and Taemaro. They don't have the boundary lines that people speak of," she said.

She too urged owners to keep their dogs under control at all times, as those that were free to roam would sniff out the birds and kill them.

"Our ancient taonga need your help," she said.

"I encourage everyone to educate others, spread the word. Most of the time people just don't know about the risk dogs pose to kiwi. Kia kaha. Tiakina nga manu. Protect our kiwi," she said.

The new campaign has been launched after a DoC/community meeting at the Hihi fire station last month, more than 40 locals attending to discuss the issue.

DoC is now working with Waiaua Marae, Taemaro Marae, the Whakaangi Landcare Trust and the Hihi Ratepayers' Association to raise awareness of the threat posed by uncontrolled dogs and take steps to address the issue.

Kiwi training for your dog

Dog owners are invited to put their dogs through a kiwi avoidance training session at Hihi on Saturday.

Contact Bruce Jarvis (Whakaangi Landcare Trust) on (027) 493-5017 to book a time.

A second course will be offered at Taemaro on Saturday week, October 15. Contact Sandra Heihei, Kukupa Education Northland on (09) 406-1745 or (027) 497-4990.

As part of avoidance training unleashed dogs are walked through a course, past various props such as stuffed kiwi or nesting material.

If the dog shows an interest in those objects, it receives a short sharp shock from the trainer via a special collar, teaching them that kiwi are something to stay away from.

Even after it has been trained, an uncontrolled or roaming dog may still attack kiwi however, especially if it is not regularly re-trained.

The best option is to keep dogs away from places where wild kiwi live. More information on avoidance training, including a national directory of certified trainers, can be found at www.kiwisforkiwi.org

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