Dog training needed to help keep kiwi safe says conservation group

More people need to learn how to keep kiwi safe as an increasing number are being found in suburban areas, Save the Kiwi says.

Last week, a kiwi wandered into a sawmill workshop in Whangārei, then another was caught on CCTV in the Wellington suburb of Broadmeadows.

Save the Kiwi chief executive Michelle Impey says dogs in particular are a major threat to kiwi, so avoidance training is necessary to reduce the threat of injuring or killing one.

“We can have kiwi and dogs living alongside each other if we have got responsible dog owners keeping their dogs under control,” she said.

The training programme involves an owner walking their dog through a course that has kiwi scent like feathers, poo, or nesting material, and the dog is corrected with an electric collar if they show interest in it.

While it will minimise the risk, Impey said avoidance training does not make a dog ‘kiwi-proof’.

Even after a dog had been trained, an uncontrolled or roaming dog may still attack a kiwi, especially if it was not regularly retrained, Impey said.

“We will put pet dogs through the training, but it shouldn’t change how those pet owners behave with their dogs,” she said.

“The things that they should do as responsible dog owners should still be done whether or not a dog is avoidance trained.”

Impey said dogs “really love” chasing kiwi. It’s dog instinct. That’s the thing we need to recognise.

“We’ll get stories of a dog that has ripped through a kiwi population, once they get on the scent, they’ll find them. But they’re not necessarily hunting them to eat them, it’s a game.”

Her advice to dog owners was to keep them under control.

“If you’re taking it out for a walk, keep it on a lead. If you want to run your dog off-lead, really just respect the rules that are in place.

“Just really be mindful of where you’re going, what might be there that might not enjoy your dog’s company and just be aware of the rules in place.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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