DNA testing has identified one of the dogs responsible for the Bay of Islands' worst spate of kiwi killings in almost 30 years.
Seven kiwi were found dead last month on Wharau Rd, off Kerikeri Inlet Rd, with injuries caused by dog bites. The total number killed is thought to be considerably higher.
Following the deaths, Department of Conservation (DoC) rangers and council animal control officers carried out patrols in the area and went door-to-door speaking to dog owners.
They also took skin and fur samples from four dogs belonging to Wharau Rd residents to see if their DNA matched dog saliva found on the carcasses.
DoC ranger Adrian Walker said DNA from one of the dogs matched the saliva. The department would now speak to the dog's owners.
While the enquiry was under way he would not comment further, including about what type of dog was involved. The tests also found DNA from a second, as yet unidentified, dog.
Mr Walker said he had also located a dog wandering in the Wharau Rd area on Saturday afternoon. It had been handed to the Far North District Council.
The penalties for allowing a dog to kill wildlife can be severe.
Under Section 58 of the Dog Control Act, the owner of any dog that seriously injures a person or kills protected wildlife can be fined up to $20,000 or jailed for up to three years.
Section 59 states that police or animal control officers can seize and destroy any dog on the loose which is disturbing or threatening protected wildlife.
Five more kiwi have been killed by dogs in the wider Bay of Islands since the Wharau Rd deaths.
The Bay of Islands' worst canine kiwi killings occurred in 1987 when a single dog abandoned in Waitangi Forest killed an estimated 500 kiwi over a six-week period.
- DoC urges anyone who sees a dog or dogs wandering in the Wharau Rd area, or being walked without a lead, to call the hotline on 0800 DOC HOT or the Far North District Council on 0800 920 029 immediately. Both lines are manned 24 hours a day.