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Dogs maul kiwi in national park kiwi refuge

Dogs maul kiwi in national park kiwi refuge

The Department of Conservation is to mount a major crackdown on uncontrolled dogs in Te Urewera National Park after dogs have killed two thirds of the monitored kiwi in a key refuge in the park, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

Up to nine of the 16 kiwi monitored in the Northern Te Urewera Ecological Restoration Project have been killed by dogs, and the status of four others is unknown. The most recent death was two days ago (October 2) when a kiwi that had been monitored for over a year was found half buried and covered in dog bites.

"This is a huge shock because until last December only one monitored kiwi had been lost in this highly successful mainland island in six years," Mr Carter said.

"My fear is that the devastation that has been wrought this year among monitored kiwi may have been replicated in the wider kiwi population."

Mr Carter said that dogs were allowed into the wider Te Urewera National Park for pig hunting provided their owners had a permit to take them in. However, dogs were banned entirely from the kiwi zone, which spanned about 4,300 hectares in the heart of the mainland island.

"All of the kiwi that have been killed were in the area where dogs are banned. As far as I am concerned that is just completely unacceptable and DoC will be responding very firmly to the situation," Mr Carter said.

"Patrols are to be established around the kiwi zone and traps will be set for dogs. Any caught will be impounded or destroyed. DoC will also work with the police, the local community and iwi to help identify any irresponsible people who are illegally taking dogs into the kiwi zone.

"Saving kiwi in Te Urewera has been a priority for DoC and the local community. If reckless individuals are imperilling this work then they need to be dealt with swiftly. It is local people who lose if the native wildlife that lives around them is wiped out."

Mr Carter said DoC could not be sure how many dogs were killing kiwi or how they got there. It was possible they had been taken in to a dog-permitted area of the park and lost and allowed to roam into the kiwi zone.

"Either way, DoC will be doing all it can to eliminate this problem. It is a salutary reminder to everyone everywhere that uncontrolled dogs in the bush can be very dangerous to native wildlife, especially some of our most vulnerable species.

"Dog access to some conservation land is a privilege and dog owners need to be aware that if strict conditions are applied, they are there for a reason and must be followed. If you lose a dog in the bush it is vital that you let DoC know as soon as possible because as this episode demonstrates, the consequences of not doing so can be horrendous," Mr Carter said.

Key Facts:

The Northern Te Urewera Ecological Restoration Project, one of several mainland islands run by DoC, spans about 50,000ha. The kiwi zone forms about 4,300 hectares in the heart of it.

Dogs are allowed into the national park for a certain part of each year and only if their owners have a permit but they are banned completely from the kiwi zone.

Of the 16 kiwi that have been monitored in the zone, nine have died in the past 10 months, eight in the last five months.

Of those nine, six have been definitely killed by dogs with another three deaths consistent with dog kills.

Four different dog scats have been found over a wide area containing kiwi feathers and bones.

This week six unregistered dogs from a nearby campsite were seized and handed in to the local pound.

There are thought to be 100 kiwi pairs living in the kiwi zone.

The Northern Te Urewera Ecological Restoration Project has had some notable success with native wildlife over the past few years. The area is home to two-thirds of the world's population of kokako, and a thriving blue duck/whio population.

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