Kiwi ‘facts’ repeated
There is a story in the Advocate today about the release of kiwi. It contains some oft repeated ‘facts’ about dogs which are unfortunately inaccurate. Here’s the quote:
‘The four kiwi — three females and one male — entranced the crowd and acted as ambassadors as people learnt about the key threats to kiwi survival in Northland, pests like stoats that predate 95 per cent of kiwi chicks before they reach their first birthday in unmanaged areas, and inquisitive dogs who find their scent simply irresistible and have reduced the average lifespan of Northland kiwi from 60 to just 13 years old.’
After searching for scholarly evidence that dogs find the smell of kiwi peculiarly attractive, and coming up empty-handed, we received confirmation from DoC in an OIA request that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that dogs find the scent of kiwi irresistible. I believe they have now ceased saying this in their press releases.
The article attributes the actions of dogs to a dramatic reduction in the average lifespan of the Northland kiwi. I am not sure how this was derived. The facts, as detailed in a DoC spreadsheet of all kiwi killed by dogs in the last 29 years in the North Island (also obtained by one of our members under OIA) are that (i) there are around 8000 kiwi estimated to be living in Northland, (ii) on average each year, 10 kiwi are killed by dogs in Northland, and 2.2 are suspected to have been killed by dogs.
In chasing up these errors we don’t mean to be bloodyminded. We just want information about dogs and kiwi, or other birds, to be factual rather than emotive.
LEONIE EXEL Bay of Islands Watchdogs