|Kowhai, a dead Northland brown kiwi|
The greatest cause of kiwi deaths in Northland is dogsLuckily, this issue is easily solved, as people are the key. What you do, whether you own a dog or not, will make a difference.
Not my dog? Ma te kuri ka mate te kiwi
DOC Whangarei kiwi rangers Pete
Graham and Sue Bell with the many
kiwi killed by dogs
Farm dogs, hunting dogs, visiting dogs and pets are equally attracted to kiwi. They may not mean to kill them, but kiwi are extremely easily crushed by a dog. Kiwi don’t have a sternum (breastbone), so their rib cage is very vulnerable. A dog can kill a kiwi by picking it up gently in its mouth, or by giving it a playful push with its muzzle. A dog that has never killed anything before and has shown no sign of aggression is quite capable of killing a kiwi.
Kiwi are chased because they smell fantastic to dogs—and because kiwi run away from the threat. They become an ideal target for any dog. And what might start as one accidental encounter can quickly become a habit.
The only way to avoid dogs killing kiwi is to stop kiwi and dogs meeting.
This means all dogs, wherever they are from and whoever they belong to, including dogs trained to avoid kiwi or other birds.
Where our kiwi liveNorthland brown kiwi live in some surprising places! While they prefer damp gullies in native forest and dense shrubland, they are also found in plantation forest, rough pasture, around wetlands, and in shrubland with lots of gorse or blackberry.
The birds generally have multiple daytime shelters comprising burrows, fallen nīkau fronds, hollow logs, tight vegetation and slash from land-clearing or forest harvest. They will also roost on the edge of roads or bush and can be found running along or across roads at night, and through properties and sections. One of these could be your property, or your neighbour’s!
How to help our kiwiAs a dog owner/minder you need to ensure dogs are:
- Contained on your property, so there is no chance of them wandering.
- On a lead when walking.
- Permitted when hunting.
- Bird aversion trained, wherever possible.
Dogs should also be:
- Registered with the local district council.
- Neutered if you don’t intend to breed from them. Unwanted dogs should go to new homes where they will be well cared for and controlled, or taken to the SPCA.
Each year, hundreds of Northland dogs are trained to avoid kiwi, should they meet them. Although this training cannot guarantee a dog won’t harm kiwi, it makes a big difference for many dogs and helps owners and minders understand dogs’ behaviour around birds.
The dogs that benefit the most from aversion training are farm and hunting dogs that are required to work in or around kiwi habitat. If you’re a hunter using dogs, you’ll need a certificate showing that your dog has been on a bird aversion training course in order to get a hunting permit in or around kiwi areas. Contact your nearest Department of Conservation office for information about aversion training opportunities.