Hawke's Bay's largest kiwi population may be at risk from two dogs that are loose in the Kaweka Forest Park.
The dogs entered the forest park on July 1 with their owner. They escaped from Little's Clearing carpark and have not been seen since.
Department of Conservation (DOC) Ahuriri-Napier ranger Rod Hansen said he was extremely concerned for the welfare of the kiwi, as the dogs had not been trained to avoid birds.
"Only avian avoidance trained, permitted dogs are allowed in the park and they must be under the control of their owner at all times.
"This means that the park's kiwi are at even greater risk than they would be otherwise from a free roaming dog," he said.
The dogs had been roaming the forest park for almost two weeks now and could have covered considerable ground.
"It is disappointing that DOC finds itself in this situation. Especially as DOC staff and volunteers have done extensive work over the years on cat and mustelid trapping to try to protect the kiwi in this area. These two dogs could undo the considerable amount of work people have done."
DOC Napier-Ahuriri Acting Operations Manager Moana Smith-Dunlop said kiwi were an extremely easy target for uncontrolled dogs.
"These birds are very fragile, it doesn't take much of a bite or a dog mouthing them to kill them. That is why people must be mindful that if they do take a permitted dog into the Kaweka Forest park they are entering kiwi territory," she said.
DOC was working closely with the owner to urgently recover the dogs.
If any walkers catch sight of the dogs or manage to catch them, DOC asks that it be notified immediately.
Any sightings of the dogs could be reported by phoning 0800 DOC-HOT.