Family pets can kill kiwi. Here’s what you can do to keep kiwi safe
Dogs and cats can be very dangerous for wild kiwi and other native taonga. Dogs have the biggest impact on adult birds which they can kill in just seconds, while cats are a threat to other species.
Everyone who owns a dog or a cat and lives in areas where wild kiwi and other native species also live need to make sure their animals do not harm these vulnerable birds.
Help for pet owners
Every dog, regardless of its size, breeding or training, or whether it is a family pet or working dog, is a potential kiwi killer. Even certified kiwi dogs, specifically trained to help conservation workers find kiwi, have to wear muzzles – just in case.
Here are some guidelines that dog owners can follow to keep wild kiwi safe:
- The best solution is the simplest: keep all dogs away from all areas where wild kiwi live. The birds are especially vulnerable during their breeding season, from June to the following March.
- If you live or play in places where wild kiwi live, enrol your dogs (especially hunting dogs) in kiwi avoidance training to help them learn to avoid the birds should they stumble across one in the wild.
- If you are travelling, do your research first. Contact the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai to find out if wild kiwi live there and if dogs are allowed.
- When you are not with your dog, keep it inside or in a roomy run or kennel.
- Ensure your dog cannot escape from your property.
- When out and about, always keep your dog on a lead. A kiwi can be caught and killed in seconds.
- Exercise your dog in areas designated for that purpose.
- Never let your dog roam at night.
- If hunting where wild kiwi live, put tracking collars on your dogs and take all dogs home at the end of the hunt.
- If you lose your dog, or see a roaming dog, report it immediately to your local DOC Area Office.
- Never abandon unwanted dogs. Give them to the SPCA or ask a vet to put them down humanely.
If you thought that cats just sleep all the time, you’d be wrong. In fact, domestic cats wearing radio transmitters have been tracked and were found to roam up to 20 kilometres from home.
Wild or abandoned cats are a threat to indigenous taonga. Here are some guidelines that cat owners can follow to reduce the likelihood of their cat killing a kiwi:
- The best solution is the simplest: if you live in an area where native species live, give your cat to someone who doesn’t.
- Keep your cat inside at night.
- Put a bell collar around its neck.
- Make sure your cat is well fed and has moving toys to play. It will be less inclined to chase birds and other creatures.
- Have your cat neutered or spayed so it can’t produce unwanted kittens.
- When your cat dies, don’t replace it.
Pig, deer, or duck … It doesn’t matter what you like to hunt, you could run into a kiwi in the wild. Find out more about your responsibilities when it comes to kiwi conservation before you head out on your next hunting trip.
Farmers and landowners
A significant proportion of kiwi live on private land. If you’re a farmer or own land, find out how you can keep kiwi living on your property safe.
Kiwi can thrive in managed plantation forests if a few simple precautions are taken. Learn how you can protect wild kiwi without impacting the management of your forest.
Don’t fall into any of these categories but keen to help? There are plenty of volunteering opportunities available – discover some near your place.