Killer dogs 'roaming feral through kiwi country' need to be controlled - trust

 Killer dogs 'roaming feral through kiwi country' need to be controlled - trust
Photo credit: Supplied to RNZ

Hunters are being warned to have their dogs chipped and trained for kiwi aversion after another death of one of the endangered birds.

A young female kiwi was killed by two feral dogs in the Maungataniwha Native Forest in central Hawke's Bay last month on a property owned by conservation group the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The bird, Orotika, came from an egg recovered in 2017 as part of the national Operation Nest Egg kiwi conservation initiative, and was released into the Maungataniwha Native Forest in 2018.

Manager at the trust Pete Shaw said staff members heard dogs barking while doing kiwi listening to count numbers of the protected birds. They put trail cameras out later and discovered the two dogs.

Shaw said the bird was found dead on the road soon after.

The dogs had been feral for at least six months, he said.

"If these are the same mutts then they've been killing and maiming our native wildlife for at least six months, probably even longer.

"Goodness knows what damage and carnage they've caused and how badly they've set back kiwi conservation efforts in this region.

"They've been roaming feral through kiwi country for six months or more. It's entirely possible they've killed more birds than we've put back. It's heart-breaking."

A male kiwi was killed in another dog attack in Kaweka Forest Park in Hawke's Bay not long ago.

Department of Conservation (DOC) biodiversity ranger Kahori Nakagawa said kiwis were very vulnerable in an attack from a dog.

"They will run when chased but their anatomy - especially their chests, which are weak due to a lack of flight muscles - means they can suffer fatal injuries very easily," Nakagawa said.

"The number of dog-related kiwi deaths is concerning, and we urge all dog owners to behave responsibly and keep their animals under control. We'd also like to remind people to make sure they follow the rules about where they can take dogs."

Dog owners may be issued an infringement fine of up to $800 or prosecuted if they take any dog into a no-access area, take unpermitted dogs into the Kaweka Forest Park in Hawke's Bay, or breach the conditions of their permit, Nakagawa said.

Charges can also be filed under the Dog Control Act where there is evidence dogs have killed kiwi.

The maximum penalty the court can hand down in these cases is a $20,000 fine or up to three years in jail, and an order for the dogs to be destroyed.

Shaw said hunters should have their dogs trained for kiwi aversion and hunt sensibly.

"If you lose a dog, let somebody know straight away and do everything that you can to try and get them back because they can go feral quite quickly.

"And once they do that, they're very, very hard to get."

"I think as the general public in the back country and they come across stray dogs or they hear dogs or they know that there're dogs that shouldn't be in there or unattended, then they should report them immediately to the nearest DOC office if they're on DOC land, or if on private land where there's kiwi, they should let the land owners know immediately."

The dogs were found and put down.