Not the Best for News for Northland Kiwi Numbers
Annual monitoring has shown kiwi call counts in Northland to have dropped at an average rate of 10 percent per year since 1995, with dogs and small mammalian predators continuing to be the main culprits contributing to this trend.
Northland Conservancy advisory scientist Ray Pierce said while kiwi were still present at all sites being monitored in Northland in 1999, they were down an average of 18 percent on the previous year.
The decline has not been uniform around Northland although dogs and ferrets remain the main killers of adult kiwi, while stoats and cats are the main culprits when it comes to juvenile kiwi deaths.
Call counts at a few sites like the West Coast's Katui Reserve, have crashed over the years and contributed disproportionately to the overall decline. Sites like this have received little pest management and are known for their dog and ferret problems locally.
Dr Pierce said while these preliminary results were sobering it highlighted the fact more must be done to safeguard some of the last remaining mainland populations of North Island brown kiwi in the country.
"The most important thing members of the public can do for kiwi is to control their dogs in and around known kiwi areas," Dr Pierce said.
"We are fortunate here in Northland to still be able to hear kiwi in the wild but everyone has a role to play in safeguarding their future on the mainland," he said.
Some positive results have, however, come from intensively managed sites like Trounson and the experimentally managed study areas north of Whangarei where kiwi populations appear to be holding their own. These sites are providing some valuable information about what level of management is needed to safeguard kiwi populations, Dr Pierce said.
Annual kiwi monitoring has been carried out in Northland for five successive years to determine whether kiwi are still present at representative sites throughout Northland.
The monitoring, which involved volunteers and DOC staff kiwi listening for two hours after dark for each of four nights, took place at 29 sites around Northland during May and June this year.
Dr Pierce explained that while call counts provide only an index of kiwi abundance, they nevertheless correlate quite closely with actual numbers of birds.
Northland kiwi call counts remain, however, some of the highest in the country.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith recently announced a $6.6 million funding boost for research into stoat control but reinforced the need for people to do what they could to safeguard existing kiwi populations.
To find out what you can do to help kiwi contact the Bank of New Zealand-sponsored kiwi advocate in your area. In Whangarei - Gerry Brackenbury (09) 430 2133, in the mid-North and Western regions - Lindsay Charman (09) 407 8474 and in the Far North - Wendy Sporle (09) 408 6014.
More information on the Bank of New Zealand-sponsored Kiwi Recovery Programme can be found on the internet at WWW.kiwirecovery.org.nz