15 Feb 2012

Aversion training for dogs urged by DoC

12:35 pm on 15 February 2012

The Department of Conservation is appealing to all dog-owners in Northland to put their animals through kiwi aversion training to protect the national bird.

A Bay of Islands conservation group has published photos on its Facebook page of 60 kiwi killed in the Opua area last year by roaming pet dogs.

DoC says the department offers aversion-training classes for dogs where the animals are presented with a dead kiwi and given a small electric shock.

Kiwi programme manager Don Robertson says it's not just big dogs that kill kiwi - small yappy varieties can be just as lethal.

He says people with little dogs often don't believe they could or would kill kiwi - but they can and do.

Mr Robertson says Northland has the highest population in the country of kiwi living in the wild and many live near human habitation.

Householders can help by keeping their dogs under control at all times, and confined at night - and by taking them to DOC's kiwi aversion classes.

Mr Robertson says the training doesn't hurt the dogs and if it's repeated once a year, it greatly reduces the risk that they will kill kiwi.

In kiwi sanctuary areas in Whangarei where dog-owners support the kiwi recovery programme, Mr Robertson says the birds are now increasing in numbers.