Kiwi chick found dead inside sanctuary

The discovery of a dead kiwi chick, just a few months old, on a property near Colville is a graphic reminder that when it comes to kiwi, stoats are enemy number one.

The chick is thought to have been killed by a stoat. The dead kiwi was found by Nicole McAuley this week, while she was out on her Colville property undertaking predator control work. The find is made more tragic by the fact that the chick was found within the Moehau Environment Group Kiwi Sanctuary.

Natalie Collicott, the groups Coordinator, says the find is “bitterly disappointing”.

“Losing a chick just highlights how vulnerable kiwi are, and the importance of ongoing predator control” says Natalie. Research has shown that 95% of kiwi chicks in the wild never make it past 6 months.

Stoats are by far the most serious threat to kiwi survival. It is estimated that stoats kill 40 North Island brown kiwi chicks per day on average, or 60% of North Island brown kiwi born every year. Other predators such as ferrets, dogs and cats kill another 35% of kiwi chicks.

“Our trapping alongside other pest control in the area helps keeps predator numbers low. But the reality is we can’t completely keep all pests out of the unfenced Sanctuary. Sadly it appears a predator that got past our trap lines has encountered the young chick and killed it.”

The community group has been undertaking landscape-scale stoat trapping in the area since 2005, to complement the adjacent Department of Conservation Moehau Kiwi Sanctuary. The Northern Coromandel has the largest area of kiwi protection on the mainland.

“By reducing predator numbers, we are improving a Kiwi’s chances of survival, and helping kiwi numbers on the Coromandel to grow.” says Natalie. The lifespan of the Coromandel Brown kiwi is higher than anywhere else in the country, thanks to the predator control efforts of community groups and DOC. Monthly trapping has enabled the local kiwi population to double every 6-8 years.

There are currently approx 1500 North Island Brown Kiwi on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Want to get involved? Join a Kiwi Care group or start some predator control at your place. Go here if you are interested in volunteering for us. We can also help anyone looking to buy their own traps. Simply visit our Shop.

Anyone who finds a dead or injured kiwi should hand them into the Department of Conservation or local vets for treatment or examination.