It's 7:30 in the morning and Max Liver is setting up several bait stations on an area of open ground just outside Hastings. He has an impressive assortment of 'bait', - kiwi droppings, feathers, - even a stuffed bird and a recording of kiwi calls.
Over two days Max and his wife Andy will put about 90 hunting dogs and their handlers through this course designed to teach the dogs to avoid kiwis in the bush. They have 200 hunters and 500 dogs on their data base.
The kiwi has a strong scent attractive to dogs but as soon as Rover sniffs the pooh and feathers he gets a sharp electric shock from his collar.
'The trick, says Max, is to time the jolt so that Rover associates it with the bird and not the handler, - we don't want to teach handler instead of bird aversion'.
All hunters must have a bird-safe permit before they can hunt on East Coast Hawkes Bay Department of Conservation land. DOC recognises the valuable contribution that hunters make in controlling deer and pig numbers in conservation areas and that trained and well-managed dogs can increase the effectiveness of hunters. However, uncontrolled dogs are killers: in 1987 a dog which roamed the Waitangi State Forest in the Bay of Islands killed hundreds of kiwi in the six weeks before it was caught.
For Spectrum, Jack Perkins finds out how dogs become 'Bird-Safe'.