Another kiwi has been killed by a dog as the national bird's grim winter in the Bay of Islands continues, with at least 12 victims of canines in the last month alone.
The latest death, of an adult male, occurred at Oromahoe, off State Highway 10 south of Kerikeri. The dog's owner was reluctant to hand the dead bird to the Department of Conservation (DoC) so delivered it to conservation group Bay Bush Action instead.
The Bay of Islands is a stronghold for kiwi but many have been killed by dogs this month. Seven mauled kiwi have been found in the Wharau Rd area, near Kerikeri - the total number killed is thought to be at least 10 - and at least five more in places such as Te Puna Inlet, Okaihau and Puketi Forest. One was killed on Golf View Rd in urban Kerikeri and one in Russell cemetery.
Bay Bush Action trustee Brad Windust said the dog's owner handed over the kiwi killed at Oromahoe last week. Its back had been stripped of feathers and it had deep bite wounds to its head and neck. It had suffered a "hideous death", he said.
"This bird was big. It could have been 50 or more years old, had huge legs and looked like a shaggy mini-moa with a long beak."
The kiwi had been killed near the man's property but the exact circumstances were not yet known.
"I was pleased he handed it over, it must have been pretty soul-destroying to know it was his dog. It really does hurt - 95 per cent of chicks are killed, so to see an adult killed is such a tragedy. At this time of year, he would have been building an underground nest or sitting on eggs."
Mr Windust had since handed the bird over to DoC. It was important to inform DoC of any kiwi deaths so they knew the scale of the problem.
DoC's freezer was so full of kiwi killed this winter it was hard to find space for the latest arrival. A DoC ranger was yesterday still trying to contact the dog's owner.
Mr Windust called on Northland councils to "realise the enormity of the situation" and improve compliance and responsiveness to dog issues.
He urged dog owners to put their pets through kiwi aversion training. It was not 100 per cent effective but worked well for some dogs. Even trained dogs should not be let loose in a kiwi zone, he said.
Kiwi could live up to 60 years. On average, Northland kiwi lived only 14 years, mainly as a result of dog attacks, Mr Windust said.
Kiwi were not always confined to the bush. At this time of year, they foraged for food in paddocks and could be found living under logs or in long grass.
-See kiwisforkiwi.org for more information about kiwi aversion training for dogs.