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When Ron Wishnowski went hunting in the Coromandel bush, he was on the look-out for pigs. Instead, he ended up on a mercy dash to save a young kiwi.

The pig hunter had just entered the Papa Aroha bush on Saturday when his dog, Scoot, found the kiwi - a 2-year-old bird with its right foot caught in a gin trap set for possums.

"I went to have a look at what she had found and there was the kiwi in a trap. He started hopping around a bit because I was there."

Mr Wishnowski released the bird and it "seemed relieved to be able to straighten its leg".

"I shoved him under my bush shirt and went to call DoC. It was lucky that I was up there that day," said Mr Wishnowski, who returned home with the kiwi.

DoC arrived to collect the young bird and it was rushed to Auckland Zoo for treatment that resulted in its inner right toe being amputated.

The DoC biodiversity ranger for Hauraki, Rob Chappell, praised Mr Wishnowski for acting so quickly.

"He did everything right. He had it in a container where it was warm and dark so it didn't get too stressed," he said. "The trap had been dangling from its leg for quite a while."

The kiwi was operated on by Auckland Zoo vet Richard Jakob-Hoff, who said he had named it Waimarie, which meant "lucky" or "fortunate" in Maori.

"He was lucky because he only needed one toe cut off and he was found quite early on."

Dr Jakob-Hoff said Waimarie was given painkillers and antibiotics when he arrived at the zoo on Saturday night and was operated on on Sunday morning.

"He was subdued and he could not put his right foot forward at all. He had probably been dragging the trap for several hours."

Although Waimarie's right inner toe had been "completely crushed" by the trap, his condition was already improving. Dr Jakob-Hoff hopes to release Waimarie back into the wild in two or three weeks.

He said Auckland Zoo operated on one or two kiwis injured by traps every year. But they were not always as fortunate as Waimarie - the last kiwi, brought in a year ago, died.

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society advocacy manager Kevin Hackwell said that if gin traps were being used, they should be used properly. The traps should be raised 70cm above the ground, but the one which had trapped Waimarie had been at ground level.

"We would hope they were a thing of the past and we would rather that they were not being used."

Forest and Bird estimates 70,000 kiwi are left in the country - but about 95 per cent of young kiwi die before they are 6 months old.