Na­tional park no place for cats and dogs

South Taranaki Star - - PROPERTY - CATHER­INE GROENESTEIN

Dogs - and even cats - are be­ing brought into Taranaki’s Eg­mont Na­tional Park by own­ers who are ig­nor­ing warn­ing signs and threat­en­ing rare wildlife, Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion Rangers say.

A big new ‘no dogs’ sign has been erected as part of a crack­down af­ter a steady in­crease in the num­bers of an­i­mals putting en­dan­gered whio (blue ducks) and kiwi at risk, se­nior ranger Dave Rogers said.

It’s il­le­gal un­der the Na­tional Parks Act to take dogs other than guide dogs or po­lice dogs into a na­tional park, even in a ve­hi­cle, and dog own­ers may be fined up to $100,000.

But a rise in vis­i­tors, par­tic­u­larly free­dom campers and mo­torhomes, has seen more peo­ple ig­nor­ing the law, he said.

‘‘Dogs big or small, ugly or cute, are a dan­ger to kiwi and other na­tive wildlife in the Na­tional Park. We’re not go­ing to take ex­cuses any longer.

‘‘Even docile dogs can be preda­tory an­i­mals and a threat to na­tive wildlife, and a dog can sniff out a kiwi or whio with ease,’’ Rogers said.

Pet cats were equally un­wel­come. ’’There’s es­ti­mated to be just 3000 whio left in the world. We’ve got around 100 of them here in our park. Imag­ine if some­one’s dog killed a whio how dev­as­tat­ing that would be to the whio pop­u­la­tion.’’

Many peo­ple claimed not to have seen the ex­ist­ing ‘no dogs’ signs, or as­sumed the sign did not ap­ply to their dog, he said.

‘‘It’s al­ways been a prob­lem but it’s grown. One of the things that al­ways seems to bring an in­crease in dogs is fresh snow.’’

‘‘Dogs big or small, ugly or cute, are a dan­ger to kiwi.’’ Dave Rogers

Other peo­ple had been caught tak­ing their dogs up the Man­gorei Rd track, an area where kiwi were known to live.

‘‘Peo­ple think it’s okay to leave their dog in the car while they go for a walk or have a cof­fee - not only is it not al­lowed - it’s danger­ous for the dog as it could over­heat in a hot car.’’

The new sign was be­ing placed at North Eg­mont on Eg­mont Rd to see if it was ef­fec­tive, be­fore oth­ers were put up at other en­trances to the park, at Strat­ford and Lucy’s Gully, Rogers said.

He said DOC rangers would be mon­i­tor­ing tracks and carparks over sum­mer and any­one seen with a dog in the Na­tional Park may face pros­e­cu­tion.

The depart­ment had pros­e­cuted some peo­ple in the past, but in most cases peo­ple were quick to take their dog and leave the park when spo­ken to by DOC staff, he said.

ANDY JACK­SON/STUFF

DOC se­nior ranger Dave Rogers with a new ‘no dogs’ sign at North Eg­mont na­tional park.

SUP­PLIED

Dog own­ers put kiwi like this chick at risk..

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