Dogs and cats are a major problem for kiwi.
In Northland, for example, dogs have surpassed stoats, ferrets and cats as the main kiwi killer. If you are a dog owner, you have a responsibility to keep your dog under control at all times around areas where wild kiwi live. All dogs – no matter the age, gender and size – are capable of crushing the delicate bodies and organs of baby and adult kiwi. And by killing breeding adult kiwi, dogs threaten the future existence of our national icon, which is already in serious decline.
There are a number of useful resources to help manage dogs and cats and reduce the damage they cause to kiwi.
- Dog control legislation
- Kiwi avoidance training
- Cat cage design
- Keeping kiwi safe from pets
Dog control legislation
Two pieces of law recognise that dogs and kiwi don’t mix and help protect kiwi – the Dog Control Act 1996 and the Conservation Act Amendment 1996.
New Zealand’s Dog Control Act 1996 spells out obligations for dog owners. The Act was amended in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
Under the Dog Control Act, every dog owner has to make sure his or her animal is kept under control and does not injure, endanger or cause distress to any protected wildlife (including kiwi), or stock, poultry and domestic animals. Any dog ‘at large’ and an immediate threat to kiwi may be seized or destroyed by the landowner or a dog control officer. Local authorities can put additional controls on dogs, such as excluding them from some areas or limiting their numbers.
Under the Conservation Act Amendment (1996), some areas are open to dogs; some areas are ‘controlled’ and dogs can only go there if the owner has a permit; and some areas exclude dogs altogether if they pose a high risk.
Kiwi avoidance training
Dogs are the main predator of adult kiwi, which means they are killing the important breeding birds and threatening the future of kiwi. You can learn more about the effect dogs are having here.
Kiwis for kiwi has been working to raise owners’ awareness of just how dangerous their dog can be for kiwi, and as part of this is supporting kiwi avoidance training.
While the safest option is to ensure kiwi and dogs never meet, if dogs must go into an area where wild kiwi live – such as working dogs – this training helps reduce the risk.
The training offers no guarantees, especially with some breeds such as terriers, and does not make the dogs bird-safe – but it does make a difference. Regular re-training is also needed to maximise success rates and research has shown pet dogs showed more interest in kiwi ‘props’ if the owner was not present, reinforcing the fact that dogs should never be allowed to roam uncontrolled.
You can see how it works on our How to Save Kiwi video.
A list of trainers throughout New Zealand is available here.
Cat cage design
Wild cats are a major threat to kiwi. They can be trapped in baited cage traps, but this is often difficult to do, particularly when there is an abundance of food they like to hunt, such as rabbits and rodents. Most cats are caught during the autumn and winter months, when less of this other prey is around.
Follow the link to download a PDF of How to make a homemade plywood cat or possum cage. These plans can be followed by someone with basic woodwork skills. They are based on a very effective live capture possum and cat trap used in Northland. You must check live capture traps daily.