The survival chances of Northland's endangered kiwi populations have been dealt a severe blow with at least seven kiwi killed by a dog, or dogs, near Kerikeri.
The Department of Conservation said worryingly high numbers of kiwi have been killed by a dog or dogs around Kerikeri over the past two months, with at least seven kiwi found dead in the Wharau Rd area, east of Kerikeri, between May 20 and July 8.
DoC is urging people to keep dogs away from where kiwi live and are appealing for help to track down the dog, or dogs, responsible for the latest attacks.
Massey University vets have confirmed that the first two kiwi found were killed by dogs. The other dead birds also have injuries consistent with dog attacks.
DoC and the Far North District Council (FNDC) are working with the local community to identify any uncontrolled dogs in the area.
FNDC General Manager of District Services Dean Myburgh says the council deplores the killing of kiwi and its animal control services are always available to help apprehend dogs that are a danger to New Zealand's iconic native bird.
FNDC Animal Control Officers have been helping DoC with their enquiries and have, through property checks, accounted for about 15 new dogs. Officers have also spoken to several dog owners in the area, and set a live capture dog trap in the Wharau Rd area to prevent further dog attacks on kiwi.
"I would urge anyone who sees a dog that is threatening kiwi to call 09 401 5200 or our 24 hour service line 0800 920 029 and we will dispatch animal control staff to apprehend the dog," Mr Myburgh said.
Mike Thompson, spokesman for the South Kerikeri Inlet Landcare (SKIL) kiwi conservation group was upset at the deaths.
"We work hard controlling pests to create a habitat in which our kiwi can survive and thrive. Our group is extremely disappointed that an uncontrolled dog, or dogs, has been allowed to devastate our healthy population of breeding kiwi," Mr Thompson said.
"Bay of Islands residents are fortunate to have kiwi right on our doorstep. We have passionate individuals who really care about these kiwi. But we can only do so much. Your dog is your responsibility," he said.
DoC Bay of Islands services manager Rolien Elliot said kiwi are a living treasure that aren't found anywhere else in the world.
"It's DOC's role to protect these taonga and we are doing everything we can to identify the dog or dogs responsible. Any dog can kill a kiwi, and it's well documented that the main cause of death to adult kiwi in Northland is dogs," Mr Elliot said.
"This is about responsible pet ownership. If you live in a kiwi zone, and you own a dog, tie it up."