We call ourselves kiwis. Our identity as New Zealanders is entwined with this unique bird. So it's safe to say we're all committed to ensuring kiwi don't disappear.
One thing we can all do to keep kiwi safe is to ensure we keep our dogs secure at all times. This is particularly true in Northland, where dogs are the main killer of kiwi.
In other parts of New Zealand, kiwi live to be 40 to 65 years old. In Northland, the average age of kiwi is just 14. Why? Dogs are the No 1 killers of kiwi in Northland.
The good news is we can fix this. There are simple things we can do to stop our dogs killing kiwi. At night, keep your dogs in a kennel, garage, your home or somewhere else secure, so they can't wander. During the day, ensure your dog is under your control at all times, so they can't wander, keep your dog on a lead when walking, put your working and hunting dogs through kiwi aversion training.
Any dog can kill a kiwi, even small or soft-mouthed dogs.
Why? Kiwi lack wings, feathers and muscle in the critical area where dogs grab kiwi in their mouths. This means kiwi are easily crushed in a dog's mouth. Even if a dog mouths a kiwi over its back, this can crush its vital organs, causing internal bleeding and death. Often, the only evidence of trauma from a dog attack is blood coming from the dead kiwi's mouth.
This explains how the dead kiwi, found by people walking their dogs on Long Beach at Russell, was killed by a dog but had no lacerations. The dog walking group rang 0800 DOC HOT / 0800 362-468. This is the right thing to do, and much appreciated.
A post mortem, at the Wildbase Hospital, attached to Massey University, showed evidence of bruising and other injuries consistent with a dog attack.
Kiwi killed by dogs do not necessarily have obvious signs of trauma, laceration or bruising. Bruising usually takes a day or two before it is visible, and usually can't be seen unless the bird is plucked.
Even dogs that show no signs of aggression can kill kiwi. Why? The smell of a kiwi is highly attractive to dogs.
Even the most mild-mannered dog will chase a kiwi and try to grab it. The smallest amount of pressure from a dog's mouth is enough to kill a kiwi.
While we're talking facts, we want to correct some statements made in an editorial, published in the Northland Age on July 26, headlined 'Our kiwi, our dogs and a need for honesty'.
The editorial stated: "There have been 49 tracked kiwi killed in Northland since January 2016. Of these only one was killed by a dog. The vast majority were killed by ferrets and stoats."
In fact, only 18 kiwi, with transmitters attached, were killed in Northland since January 2016. Fifteen of the 18, were in Trounson Kauri Park, a reserve where dogs are not allowed. All 15 of the kiwi killed in this 'no dog' reserve, were chicks, killed by stoats.
One of the 18 kiwi was an adult, killed by a dog. Adult kiwi can defend themselves from stoats and ferrets but are defenceless against dogs.
The fact is, dogs are the main killers of adult kiwi throughout New Zealand, including Northland. The reality is, as the No 1 killer of adult breeding kiwi nationwide, dogs threaten the survival of kiwi.
The July 26 editorial also stated that "DOC figures just published online show the estimated number of brown kiwi in Northland increased by 250 last year." This figure is a mystery to DOC, and Kiwis for Kiwi. What we do know is that in Northland, kiwi numbers are increasing in areas where community groups are controlling stoats, ferrets and feral cats.
Finally, it was stated in the editorial that DOC and Russell Landcare supported releases of kiwi close to humans in the Bay of Islands. This is not correct. There have been no releases of groups of kiwi in the Bay of Islands area for more than 20 years.
Everyone wants kiwi to survive and thrive in Northland. There's one thing everyone can do, to help make this happen. Keep our dogs away from kiwi by keeping them under control at all times.
SUE REED THOMAS (DOC)
MICHELLE IMPEY (Kiwis for Kiwi)
NGAIRE TYSON (Kiwi Coast)