Kiwi ‘facts’ re­peated

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

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

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