More kiwi killed – driv­ers urged to slow down

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By ALEXAN­DRA NEWLOVE

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’’.

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