Tuesday, 26 May 2020


Dog owner to appear in court over kiwi death

A Coromandel Peninsula dog owner will appear in the Thames District Court in March following the discovery of two dead kiwi on private property adjacent to a Papa Aroha coastal forest.

The Department of Conservation’s Whitianga Operations Manager, Nick Kelly, says eight Coromandel kiwi were killed by dogs in 2019, with DOC pursuing a Dog Control Act prosecution against the owner of two dogs believed to have killed a kiwi in July last year.

“After Thames-Coromandel District Council staff seized two suspected dogs, DOC Rangers collected DNA samples from them,” says Mr Kelly. “The DNA recovered from the dead kiwi matched the DNA samples taken from one the suspect dogs.”

If the owner of the dogs is found guilty, the court must order destruction of the animal involved in the attack, unless the circumstances of the attack were exceptional. “Ultimately, [we] hope the outcome of the prosecution will prevent more kiwi deaths,” Mr Kelly says.

The Dog Control Act also stipulates that the owner of a dog that kills protected wildlife can be fined up to $20,000 or jailed for up to three years.

In addition, there were two separate cases in November 2019 where mauled kiwi were discovered on private properties in the Kaimarama area, near Whitianga.  Although the DNA retrieved from the dead kiwi tested positive for canine DNA, the sample was too weak to match to any suspect dogs.

 “Our pets may be precious to us, but they can be devastating to wildlife,” Mr Kelly says. “Years of conservation efforts, such as efforts to reduce predator numbers, can easily be undone by a family pet or hunting dog. A shocking example is the 1987 disaster, when a single dog killed an estimated 500 kiwi in the Waitangi Forest. Prosecutions under the Dog Control Act may seem extreme, but there is a lot at stake.”

Dogs are the number one killer of adult kiwi. Adult kiwi are breeding birds and their loss is always of concern as without them there are no eggs or chicks to keep the population stable or growing.

Thanks to years of predator control and kiwi restoration projects by DOC, tangata whenua, community groups and volunteers, there are now 1,700 kiwi on the Coromandel Peninsula.

In most cases, it is easy to prevent dogs from becoming kiwi killers, simply keep them away from areas where kiwi live.

However, as the Coromandel kiwi population recovers and begins to thrive, chance meetings between dogs and kiwi are becoming more common. Keep in mind, your home might be a Kiwi home too.    

One way you can help to prevent a chance encounter between your dog and a kiwi becoming deadly is by annually enrolling your pet into the free Kiwi aversion courses offered by your local DOC office. While it will help, kiwi avoidance training is not a fail-safe method, so dogs should never be allowed to roam.

Hunters require a DOC-issued hunting permit. All hunting dogs must be kiwi avoidance certified and should be fitted with a tracking collar. Permits and certificates must be carried when hunting on public conservation land. Private landowners can choose to only allow access to hunters with kiwi avoidance trained dogs.

Dog owners must understand their role of kaitiakitanga to our native birds, by keeping their dogs under control.

We are privileged to have kiwi living right on our doorstep. With this privilege comes the responsibility of ensuring man’s best friend doesn’t become a kiwi killer.

Interested in Kiwi Aversion Courses? Ring the Kauaeranga Valley Visitors Centre on (07) 867 9080.

Pictured: A coromandel kiwi. Photo by Sabine Bernert


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