A kiwi killed in a dog attack in Hawke's Bay may have been deliberately buried afterwards by the dog's owner to prevent it being found.
A male North Island brown kiwi, which was part of the Kaweka kiwi breeding programme, was recently found dead, with an injury, under a shallow layer of earth in the Kaweka Forest Park, by a volunteer from the Environment, Conservation and Outdoor Education Trust.
The ground around the bird, named Mahika, was covered in dog and human prints, suggesting he may have been attacked by a dog and the body deliberately hidden.
Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Kahori Nakagawa said only permitted hunting dogs which have undergone kiwi aversion training are allowed in the Kaweka Forest Park.
"It is devastating and so frustrating to lose any kiwi to a dog, as this kind of thing is entirely preventable," she said.
"It's even more disappointing someone would try to hide this death rather than taking responsibility for it."
The incident is being investigated.
This was the second dog-related death of a monitored kiwi in the Kaweka Forest Park in the past 12 months.
The Department of Conservation says there has been an increase in dogs in the park where the animals shouldn't be.
Only permitted hunting dogs on active hunting trips are allowed, while no dogs are allowed at scenic reserves, including Lake Opouahi, Boundary Stream, Bell Rock and Shine Falls tracks.
Nakagawa said Kiwi run when chased, but their anatomy means they can suffer fatal injuries easily.
"Kiwi aversion training is essential, but it's also not a silver bullet. We know even the most obedient dogs can be drawn to the scent of a kiwi when their owner is distracted," she said.
"Mahika was a young adult male who has just started to breed, so this is a blow to the population."
DoC has increased staff presence in the park over the past few months to remind people of the rules.
Dog owners may be issued a fine of up to $800 or prosecuted if they take any dog into a no-access area, take unpermitted dogs into the Kaweka Forest Park or breach the conditions of their permit.
The maximum penalty court can give in these cases is a $20,000 fine or up to three years in jail, and an order for the dogs to be destroyed.
Anyone who sees roaming dogs on public conservation land is urged to report it to 0800 DOC HOT.