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Attack highlights dogs and kiwi don’t mix

Attack highlights dogs and kiwi don’t mix

An adult female kiwi being treated at Auckland Zoo after being badly injured in an attack by a fox terrier in the Coromandel last week is highlighting the need for the public to get on board and help keep kiwi safe from dogs this summer.

The small fox terrier tagging along on a daytime hunting expedition in native forest south of Coromandel town, attacked the lucky-to-be alive kiwi, nicknamed Jo. The kiwi suffered bite and puncture wounds to its back and cloaca, as well as severe bruising.

A hunter retrieved the wounded kiwi and took it to a vet clinic in Coromandel. From there it was driven to the Department of Conservation (DOC) office in Thames and then transported to Auckland Zoo.

While stable, Auckland Zoo vet An Pas, says Jo’s future remains uncertain. “This kiwi is not out of the woods yet. Our key area of concern is the severity of tissue damage that may be present internally, which we’re reassessing today.”

Thames-based DOC Conservation Services ranger, Christine Friis, says the attack is a reminder that any dog of any size can attack and kill a kiwi.

“Your dog can be well behaved and docile until it comes in contact with a kiwi. Dogs are attracted to the smell of a kiwi and it takes just a few seconds for a dog to grab and kill a kiwi.”

“Stoats are the biggest killer of kiwi chicks. Dogs are the biggest killer of adult kiwi,” says Christine Friis.

DOC and community kiwi care groups are providing free kiwi aversion training on the Coromandel over the Christmas New Year holiday. “This helps reduce the risk dogs pose to kiwi. But it’s not a guarantee that a dog that’s received the training will not attack kiwi,” says Christine Friis.
Executive director of Kiwis for Kiwi, Michelle Impey, applauds the hunter for bringing the injured kiwi in for treatment.
”We are pleading with dog owners to keep their dogs out of areas where kiwi live this summer. If that’s not possible, ensure your dog is kept on a lead while in a region with kiwi. We need dog owners to be responsible these holidays to help kiwi alive.”

“Dogs remain the biggest threat to adult kiwi, particularly in areas like Northland, Coromandel, Taranaki and Te Urewera National Park. Kiwi do not have wing muscles to protect them, so a kiwi’s chest can easily be crushed. Any dog can kill a kiwi in seconds, simply by picking it up in its mouth.”

“There’s a lot of great community effort going in to help kiwi. But the reality is a single roaming dog can wipe out an entire kiwi population in a matter of days. If we can keep dogs away from kiwi, we can prevent that,” says Ms Impey.


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