Dog owners urged to be vigilant as local kiwi dies due to suspected dog attack
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The Whakatāne Kiwi Trust is deeply saddened by the discovery of a dead kiwi, found on the field behind Ōhope Beach School last week – its injuries were consistent with a dog attack.
Whakatāne Kiwi Trust Kiwi Management Team Leader Claire Travers said the kiwi was an adult male of breeding age, which was a huge blow for the local kiwi population.
“It’s not just him we have lost but future generations of kiwi that come from him.
“It’s also really sad to think about the way this kiwi died. The harsh reality is that dog kills are not often instant, it is in a dog’s nature to violently shake the bird, causing the rib cage to fracture or break which crushes the internal organs. This then causes massive haemorrhaging where the bird drowns in its own blood. He pouri toku ngakau (my heart is sad).”
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Chief Executive Reuben Araroa said the tribe was also heartbroken to hear about the loss.
“As stated, many times before we have an obligation as kaitiaki within the Ngāti Awa rohe to support the revitalisation of our natural habitat and species. A key component of our focus has been our relationship with the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust who work tirelessly to restore the population of Kiwi in our rohe. In recent weeks, our organisations came together to celebrate the release of two Kiwi – named Hui and Tanguru into the Mokorua Scenic Reserve.
“It’s like sending our extended whanau, out into the world, wishing them a safe and prosperous life ahead. Therefore, it’s devastating to learn about this event, so want to support the Trust’s call to action for people to do Kiwi Aversion Training with their dogs. I am sure most dog owners already empathise as animal carers themselves about our loss so we continue to support the request to those dog owners who may not be aware that these training initiatives are available.”
Nationwide, dogs pose the biggest threat to kiwi, because they can kill both young and adult kiwi, and tend to develop a taste for the bird. This can result in a single dog causing significant harm to a kiwi population.
In 1987 a single dog roamed through Waitangi Forest for six weeks and slaughtered approximately 500 kiwi. In 2021, five dead kiwi were found on a beach in Northland, all probably killed by the same dog.
Decades of work, and thousands of hours and resources every year are poured into the Whakatāne Kiwi Project. Over the decades, the efforts of volunteers and active enthusiasts have grown the local kiwi population from just eight birds in 1999, to more than 350 kiwi living in the reserves and farmland surrounding Whakatāne today.
As a community-led project, members of the Whakatāne community can be proud of this achievement, and the role that everyone has played in keeping kiwi, and other precious native wildlife, safe in the area.
Around Whakatāne and Ōhope kiwi can literally be anywhere. During the day they sleep with very little cover – underneath ferns, pampas grass, in drains or even culverts. It only takes seconds for a dog to sniff out a kiwi and inflict life-threatening injuries.
Dog owners are urged to always keep their dogs under control. To support this, the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust runs several Dog Aversion Training Sessions every year, where it only takes 10 minutes to teach a dog to keep away from kiwi and weka. Even small pet dogs can kill kiwi, so it is important that all dogs in this area are aversion trained.
The next Dog Aversion Training Session is being held on June 25th. For more info and to book your dog in see: www.WhakataneKiwi.org.nz
If you see a roaming dog, please call the District Council Animal Control as soon as possible: 07 306 0500