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Unrestrained dogs blamed for Otari bird maulings

28 January 2005

Unrestrained dogs blamed for Otari bird maulings

A native duck has been killed and a young kereru severely mauled in separate incidents at Otari-Wilton’s Bush this week and staff are urging reserve visitors to keep their dogs on leads at all times.

A young paradise shelduck – one of three released by Native Bird Rescue Wellington Trust last weekend – was discovered dead with injuries consistent with a dog attack. A visitor found the seriously injured kereru yesterday. It is being cared for by Native Bird Rescue following initial veterinary care and is on antibiotics awaiting surgery to fix a broken wing.

The City Council’s Manager of Natural and Botanic Areas, Mike Oates, says the Council will be stepping up efforts to persuade dog owners to keep their dogs on leads during walks at Otari. Additional signs will be installed and the area policed more frequently by dog control officers.

“We don’t mind people with dogs enjoying the reserve but the maulings this week illustrate one of the many reasons why dogs are required to be on leads at all times,” he says. “Unrestrained dogs scare children and other visitors, trample on plants and pose an obvious threat to the growing number of native birds in the reserve.

“If people persist in breaking the rules the Council may have consider further restrictions on dogs as the reserve’s prime role is as a key eco-system for the city’s wildlife. A minority of dog owners have the potential to compromise access for all dog owners.”

Dog owners can be fined for not having their dogs on leads in the reserve and risk being charged under the Wildlife Act if their dogs kill protected species, which include kereru.

Karin Wiley, founder of the Ngaio-based Native Bird Rescue Wellington, is devastated by the dog attacks. She hand-reared the dead shelduck after it was found in a drain and is now nursing the injured kereru.

“The injuries are shocking and definitely the work of a dog,” she says. “The vet thinks the wing is repairable but the bird has lost a lot of skin leaving the exposed flesh at risk of infection and has also had an air sac punctured. It is in severe shock and is being stabilised with fluid therapy and pain relief before surgery. It’s definitely not out of the woods yet.”

Native Bird Rescue Wellington was established in 2003. Volunteers care for sick, injured and orphaned birds referred to them by the Department of Conservation, Wellington SPCA, the public and veterinary clinics throughout the region.

ENDS

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