Stray and uncontrolled dogs are putting a Northland kiwi reserve in danger as
conservationists work to re-establish a kiwi population close to the centre of Whangārei.
More than 20 kiwi have been released into the Pukenui Forest and Coronation Reserve in the past two years as efforts increase to re-establish the kiwi population around Whangārei. Since then several more kiwi have been born in the reserve.
The reserve is not far from the Whangārei CBD and the kiwi have been wandering far and wide through the reserve - with one even walking into a living room in Maunu.
The Pukenui/Western Hills Forest Trust recently gave the 12 kiwi released earlier this year their check ups and found that all were healthy and putting on weight. Several of the kiwi also have eggs.
The trust is hoping to release more kiwi into the reserve in April, but is worried that stray and uncontrolled dogs could put their kiwi conservation efforts at risk.
''We are having trouble with people ignoring the signs and taking dogs into Pukenui Forest and Coronation Reserve. These are all strictly no dog zones,'' Tanya Cook, from the trust said.
''Also many people are letting their dogs run around off lead in the bottom paddocks at Barge Park (past the wetland) and at Whau Valley Dam, which is concerning as there are kiwi living near the dam. Kiwi are well known to move out of the forest and make their burrows in grassy areas.''
Cook said people need to be aware that dogs are highly attracted to the scent of kiwi and dogs, without being aggressive, can easily cause fatal injuries to kiwi.
''We are grateful to everyone that is being responsible dog owners and paying attention to signage. We also appreciate people letting us know when they see dogs where they shouldn't be. If you see a dog where it shouldn't be please contact Armourguard on 09 438 7513 and Department of Conservation on 0800 DOC HOT.''
Throughout Northland, the number one killer of adult kiwi is uncontrolled dogs. Dogs find the smell of kiwi irresistible, and as kiwi have a very weak chest structure, even a gentle squeeze by a dog can kill a kiwi.
Adult kiwi should live to breed for 50 years or more; unfortunately, in Northland, dog kills bring the average breeding life of a kiwi down to only 14 years. This is a massive loss in breeding capacity.
More kiwi will be released into the reserve next year. Public meetings will be held to share information about the trust's work, the kiwi reintroduction and threats to kiwi, and to answer questions.
Dates for those meetings have yet to be set.