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DOC Pursues Prosecution Against Dog Owner

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has begun legal proceedings against a Coromandel dog owner after the discovery of a dead kiwi on private property adjacent to public conservation land.

David Agnew, DOC’s Acting Operations Manager in Whitianga, says DOC laid charges under the Dog Control Act after the remains of a kiwi were found near Papa Aroha coastal forest – a known kiwi habitat – in July last year.

David Agnew says two dogs have been linked to the death of the kiwi through DNA evidence. The owner of the two dogs will appear in Thames District Court in March.

Eight kiwi were killed by dogs in the Coromandel area in 2019. Dogs are also a major killer of kiwi in Northland, and a Northland dog owner will appear in the Kaikohe District in March for a similar incident in July 2018.

“Dog attacks on kiwi undermine significant long-term investment and work by DOC and its stakeholders and partners to protect these important birds,” David Agnew says.

“Incidents like these can be devastating both for the birds’ population, and also the many people who commit time and energy to kiwi protection. Kiwi deaths from dog attacks are even more tragic because they can be prevented.”

DOC is urging dog owners near kiwi habitats to keep their dogs tied up at night when kiwi are active, and keep them on a leash in kiwi environments. Dog owners can put their animals through kiwi aversion training, and details of those courses are available from local DOC offices.

Marta Lang Silveira, DOC’s National Compliance Manager, says the Department takes its compliance and legislative responsibilities seriously as it strives to protect NZ’s native species.

She says dog owners have such a key role to play in ensuring species like kiwi can survive in their natural habitats.

The Department will file charges under the Dog Control Act where there is evidence dogs have killed kiwi. The maximum penalty the court can hand down in these cases is a $20,000 fine or up to three years in jail, and an order for the dogs to be destroyed.

Anyone who sees roaming dog on Public Conservation Land is urged to report it to 0800 DOC HOT.

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