More kiwi killed – drivers urged to slow down
Heading up north this summer? Drive carefully at night.
Kiwis are ending up as roadkill at Whangarei Heads.
Numbers in the area have ballooned from 80 to more than 700 over the past 10 years thanks to the work of community conservation group Backyard Kiwi.
But the burgeoning population is also evident in the number of birds now being hit by cars.
Backyard Kiwi spokeswoman Heather Hunt says the casualties are ‘‘ a sign of the times’’.
She says a stretch of road between Nook Rd and McLeod Bay has become a ‘‘hot spot’’.
The group has recorded three kiwi deaths in the last three months and about six over the last year.
‘‘We like to promote a really positive message, so ours would be: ‘slow down and you might see a kiwi’, which is a really amazing thing,’’ she says.
Residents regularly hear kiwi calling. They also see them roaming the peninsula after dark, Hunt says.
Backyard Kiwi is responding to the roadkill problem by installing more of the distinctive ‘‘free range kiwi’’ character signs designed by Hunt.
DOC Kiwis for Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says she is aware of similar situations across the country wherever the birds’ numbers are becoming more prolific.
‘‘Once a kiwi reaches adult size, there are only three things that can kill them – cars, dogs and ferrets,’’ she says.
‘‘So we urge drivers to keep their speed down and take special care in these areas, particularly at night.’’
Slow down: Artist and kiwi conservationist Heather Hunt says kiwi roadkill is a ‘‘high class problem’’.