Sam Judd

Comment on the environment from nzherald.co.nz columnist Sam Judd

Sam Judd: Proud to be a Kiwi?

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It bemuses me that we are named after one of our flightless endangered birds when we do so little to look after them.

How can we be proud to be Kiwis when our record for looking after threatened species is abysmal? As I have mentioned before I am certainly not proud of the fact that since our nation officially declared that we would protect our biodiversity in 1992, our list of threatened species has quadrupled.

Habitats continue to be destroyed for development and our species are continually lost to the appetites of introduced pests and household animals like cats and dogs. Over 60 kiwi deaths in Northland were blamed on dogs last year, which was highlighted in this shocking photo.

I imagine most of those that oppose Gareth Morgan's campaign against cats also call themselves proud Kiwis. Over 7,000 cat lovers have joined a Facebook page whose organisers say "We're going Blast you back to the stone Age Witch hunters" to anyone who thinks that imported pets should be spayed or wear a bell to alert native birds that there is a predator lurking.

One thing is for sure - our native species were better off during the Stone Age, before people, cats, dogs and other pests arrived than they are today.

Having a pest free zone has proven itself to help our native species hugely. Many successful examples of this abound, but putting in a fence and looking after the animals is a very specialised field and thus hugely expensive.

But you can help with this. Perhaps realising that providing money for killing cats was unpopular, Morgan has turned his conservation efforts towards "enhancing the halo".

This clever idea helps people make their gardens friendlier for native species. It gives practical advice on how to minimise the risk of you cat harming species by simply using a bell or even better they say, is a stylish bib.

So get a bib for your cat, keep your dog on a leash, get involved in a restoration effort (there are lots of great projects all around the country you can join on Nature Space), or donate some money towards native tree plantings.

It might just make you feel better about being a proud Kiwi.

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