Dog attack leaves kiwi badly injured

An adult kiwi has been badly injured in a dog attack in the 309 Rd area and is now receiving specialised treatment at the Auckland Zoo. The kiwi, nicknamed Jo by FVC Thames vet staff, is lucky to be alive as kiwi usually die from dog attacks.

A small fox terrier tagging along on a daytime hunting expedition attacked the kiwi. Department of Conservation Ranger Christine Friis described the attack as a reminder that any dog of any size can attack and can kill a kiwi.

“Your dog can be well behaved and docile until it comes into contact with a kiwi. It then only takes a few seconds for the dog to grab and kill a kiwi.  Kiwi smell irresistible to dogs.

“Kiwi and dogs do not mix!  When taking dogs into areas where kiwi live, it is crucial to keep your dog on a lead at all times or to have your dog trained to avoid kiwi. Avoidance training is a great tool to help reduce the risk dogs pose to kiwi by teaching dogs they are something to stay away from,” Christine Friis said.

“The Department and community kiwi care groups host many extra kiwi aversion trainings over the holiday period. These free trainings are being offered around the Coromandel throughout January.  Please contact DOC on 07 867 9080 to find out more.

“We encourage everyone to get their dog kiwi avoidance trained, whether your dog is hunting, working or a pet. It only takes 25 minutes,” says Christine. Hunters wanting to take their dogs into the Coromandel forests need to have their dogs kiwi avoidance trained prior to being issued a hunting permit.

Kiwi are nocturnal, feeding on worms and invertebrates before returning to sleep during the day. Some kiwis choose burrows to rest in during the day but many just find a dry patch under some ponga fronds.  This makes them an easy find for an unleashed dog. Kiwi are widespread on the Coromandel.  If you live or visit areas where wild kiwi are present then please help protect kiwi by keeping your dog under control, tied up at night and on a leash in the bush during the day. Responsible dog ownership and kiwi avoidance training will allow our Coromandel brown kiwi population to increase and expand.

Christine Friis said stoats are the other major predator of kiwi chicks. “Stoats are controlled over large areas of the Coromandel by the Department, community groups and private landowners. This trapping effort is allowing Coromandel brown kiwi numbers to increase in the protected zones.”

Jo, the kiwi, was saved by a hunter who did the right thing by carrying him out and taking him to the local vet for first aid. FVC staff in Coromandel and Thames cared for Jo, and contacted the Department before he was driven to Auckland Zoo for more intensive treatment. If you find an injured or dead kiwi please contact your local DOC office or ring the DOC Hotline; 0800DOCHOT (0800 362 468). If you see a kiwi, also please contact your local DOC office.