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Kiwi’s life at risk after dog attack


Injured kiwi (photo by Robert Webb)-450A female kiwi, which had moved down the Brynderwyn range from Marunui Conservation to settle in bush above Kapawiti Road has been badly injured by a dog and is now in the care of the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre. The bird suffered numerous puncture wounds to her back, a loss of feathers from both her back and rear, trauma and a badly bruised leg.

“The incident is a harsh reminder to everyone in or near kiwi areas of the need for dog control and the terrible consequences if such control is lacking,” says John Hawley of Marunui.

The owner heard their terrier barking in the early morning near the house, thought it was after a possum and gave it some encouragement. However, on realising it was a kiwi they pulled the dog away.

“It was good that the owner acted quickly and responsibly by rescuing the bird, contacting the recovery centre and transporting it to Whangarei as soon as possible,” says John. “They are also prepared to have the dog undergo kiwi avoidance training.”

While the owner blames themself for the attack, John says the fact is that any dog on the loose, regardless of size, breed or age can hurt or kill a kiwi in seconds. This includes the family pet and dogs, which have never seen or chased a kiwi before. Kiwi can’t fly and have a scent that dogs can smell from a distance. Having no wing muscles or breast bone, their chest and internal organs can easily be fatally crushed.

Rolf Fuchs, the Department of Conservation’s Whangarei kiwi ranger, advises it could take time for internal injuries to manifest and cause death. The bird is being attended by a vet and has received antibiotics plus painkillers and is being hand fed through a tube. If brought back to health she will be sent to Matakohe-Limestone Island Sanctuary to fully recover before being returned to the Brynderwyns.

It is thought she is the offspring of one of Marunui’s early kiwi nests as she has no microchip or leg band. The dog owner’s grandchild, present during the incident, called the bird Peewee.

John Hawley says everyone is hoping for a positive outcome and that Peewee will not join the statistics of kiwi killed by dogs.

“We had a stall at Mangawhai Primary School’s Gala and Ag Day and displayed material about kiwi and their predators. It included a chain of 110 leg bands retrieved by DOC from just some of the kiwi killed by dogs throughout Northland. It shocked people to see this. While kiwi avoidance training can help, the best thing is to ensure dogs never go where kiwi live and to keep them under control, tied up or enclosed when you are not around, or on a lead and closely supervised when you are present.”

Pewee is in the caring, experienced hands of Robert Webb at the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre and he encourages anyone finding an injured kiwi to make contact on (09) 438 1447 at any time.

RECOVERING: Nicknamed Peewee, this kiwi suffered puncture wounds, pulled feathers and bruising after being attacked by a dog. (PHOTO/ROBERT WEBB)

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