News that three of the dogs blamed for a kiwi killing spree have been caught and two of their owners fined has been welcomed by a Kerikeri landcare group.
Mike Thompson, of the South Kerikeri Inlet Landcare Group, said he hoped the outcome would encourage dog owners to take more care and control their pets in areas where they could encounter kiwi.
"We're pleased that action has been taken, but disappointed that it happened in the first place."
At least eight kiwi were killed in the Wharau Rd area, off Kerikeri Inlet Rd, between May and August. Dog DNA found on three of the carcasses led Department of Conservation rangers and Far North District Council animal council officers to instruct three residents to hand over their dogs. The dogs have since been put down and two owners have been fined $200 for failing to keep their animals under control.
Mr Thompson said there was no concrete information on the number of kiwi living in the Wharau Rd-Inlet Rd area - the nearest formal count took place at Mt Bledisloe in Waitangi Forest - but the estimate often bandied about was 50. The loss of eight birds would have a significant effect, he said.
It was hard to say whether the behaviour of dog owners and visitors walking their pets in the area had changed since word got out about the kiwi deaths.
"But it does empower people to say something if they see someone walking dogs without a lead. It gives them more ammunition," he said.
Meanwhile, Michelle Impey, executive director of Kiwis for Kiwi, a charity supporting community-led kiwi conservation projects, said dog attacks on the endangered bird were frustrating and preventable.
"All across New Zealand we're fighting a battle in the bush, trying to knock down stoats and other predators so that kiwi have a good chance of survival. An uncontrolled dog undoes all that good work," she said.
"The solution is in our hands. Dog owners have to control their dogs in areas where kiwi live. Or even better, keep their dogs out of kiwi zones."