Conservationists plead with dog owners to be more careful as Northland kiwi deaths climb

Conservationists are urging people to keep their dogs under control as the number of kiwi killed in Te Tai Tokerau Northland continues to climb. 

Thirty-five wild kiwi have been killed since January - nine in the last month - and mostly from dog mauling.

Thanks to a decade of hard work by volunteer trappers, wild kiwi have returned to Ōpua Forest near Paihia. 

"At the last count there were 22 different kiwi calls that we were hearing - up from nothing. And now we frequently hear them on a nightly basis," said Bay Bush Action trustee Catherine Langford. 

But that hard work is being undone by roaming dogs. 

"This spate of killings has really knocked us sideways because it's taken out kiwi in one of the areas we have been looking after for the longest," Langford said. 

In Ōpua Forest, six kiwi were found dead within two weeks - mauled by dogs. And just south in Tutukākā, where kiwi have been released after being raised on offshore islands, it's just as bad. 

"We've found three dead kiwi in the last two weeks but that's just the ones we've found. We don't know how many more are out there in the bush," said Tutukākā Land Care trapper Cam McInnes. 

Feral dogs are a known problem in parts of Northland, but these recent kiwi deaths are believed to have been caused by roaming pet dogs. It's prompting conservationists to plead with owners to be more responsible. 

"We need to walk our dogs on leads, make sure they don't roam day or night. If you do see a wandering dog, call your local council. Don't ignore it, you might save a kiwi's life," McInnes said. 

Kiwi are feisty. An adult weighs between 2 and 4kg so can often defend themselves against smaller predators like stoats. 

"Ninety-five percent of the kills of adult kiwi in Northland, it's dogs and cars - but mostly dogs," McInnes said. 

Northland locals believe kiwi and Kiwis can live in harmony - but only if we keep our dogs under control.