The best efforts of a Bay of Islands property owner to protect kiwi on his land came to nought for at least one bird.

The remains of the young male Northland brown kiwi were found on Long Beach, Russell, by a group of dog walkers, who reported their find to the Department of Conservation, on June 9. And there was no doubt that the bird had been killed by a dog.

Biodiversity ranger Cinzia Vestena, Pewhairangi/Bay of Islands DoC, said kiwi that were killed by dogs often showed no obvious signs, such as bleeding or lacerations.

This bird had been kept in a fridge for a couple of days until it could be sent to Massey University to be autopsied, however, allowing time for deep bruises to emerge on either side of its back.

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"We know that dogs are the biggest killers of kiwi in Northland, and although most dog owners are good people and act responsibly, still some steadfastly refuse to believe their pets could kill a kiwi."

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The autopsy report stated that the damage was consistent with a dog attack.

"No obvious puncture wounds were found in the skin; this is not uncommon in dog attacks, as the skin of kiwi is very tough compared to the underlying soft tissues, which tear easily with the vigorous shaking that a dog will do.

There was extensive damage, with severe bruising, internal bleeding and tearing of the soft tissues as well as multiple fractures to the sternum, ribs, pelvis and thoracic spine," the report added.

The dog-walker who found the bird was shocked to find that a dog had been responsible.
"All of us dog-walkers who found the dead kiwi were devastated," she said.

"To find that the kiwi was killed by a dog is really upsetting. As dog owners in a kiwi area we need to be responsible; any dog can kill kiwi, and all dog owners need to have their dogs under control at all times. I'm really concerned that less responsible dog owners are not keeping their animals under control, as this may impact on how and where the majority of us responsible dog-owners can exercise our animals."

Terry Storey, manager of the property where the dead kiwi was found, was "absolutely gutted".

"I knew there were kiwi nesting close to that end of Long Beach," he said.

"In fact, to protect the birds, the land owner had employed Steve McManus, a kiwi handler, and his kiwi dog to find where the kiwi were before tree-felling on the land. It's really upsetting to find out that one of the kiwi that I've been monitoring and protecting over the past few weeks is now dead because of an uncontrolled dog."

Russell Landcare Trust chairman David McKenzie said this was exactly what the trust had always feared would happen, and was desperately trying to prevent.

"Here in Russell we are very lucky to have kiwi living all around us and among us; some lucky people even have them coming into their back yards at night," he said.

"We know that dogs are the biggest killers of kiwi in Northland, and although most dog owners are good people and act responsibly, still some steadfastly refuse to believe their pets could kill a kiwi.

"This dead bird is the hard evidence they appear not to want to face up to. It should act as a wake-up call to everyone. As the sign outside Russell warns, any dog can kill a kiwi. Even your darling."

Community ranger Helen Ough Dealy, Pewhairangi/Bay of Islands DoC, said dogs could kill kiwi very easily. The birds were very fragile, it didn't take much of a bite, or a dog mouthing them, to kill them.

"It's pretty special that if you live in the Bay of Islands, you are likely be living in a kiwi's territory. If we want to keep having kiwi in our back yards, all dog owners need to keep their dogs under control at all times.

I also encourage everyone to do two things to help — make a submission to the Far North District Council dog control bylaw, which will be going out for public consultation soon, and report any uncontrolled or roaming dogs to DoC or FNDC animal control."