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Careless drivers to blame - 10 February 2008

Careless drivers to blame

Careless drivers on Opito Bay Road, Kerikeri, are undoing years of good work by kiwi recovery volunteers says the NZ Kiwi Foundation.

These drivers – possibly residents of Opito Bay or Doves Bay, visitors to residents or boaties travelling to and from Opito Bay or Kerikeri marina – have run over and killed at least eight kiwi in the past year on the short stretch of road between Rangitane T-junction and Yacht Drive just before the marina.

Only last week the broken body of what had been a healthy adult female was found on Opito Bay Road not far from the Doves Bay Road turn-off. Another was run over and killed only 100 metres from that spot last November.

NZ Kiwi Foundation trustee and Doves Bay resident Ross Lockyer says more kiwi are now being killed by humans in this area than are killed by any other animal.

“The terrible thing about what is happening to kiwi on the Kerikeri peninsular is that it is the only place in New Zealand where kiwi road kill is more of an issue than predators such as dogs, cats, rats and stoats,” he says. “ In other words where humans kill more kiwi than do other animals.”

Years of concentrated predator control efforts on the mainly privately-owned properties has significantly reduced predators and led to a healthy kiwi population. Consequently, the Kerikeri peninsular is one of the few settled areas remaining in New Zealand where you can hear kiwi calling almost every night.

But the carnage on the road means this work is being undone. Kiwi mate for life and so if you kill an adult kiwi of breeding age you seriously affect the population. The dead bird's mate could take many years to find another and in the meantime it is not breeding.

Dr Greg Blunden, convenor of the NZ Kiwi Foundation, says kiwi are particularly vulnerable to being run over by careless drivers because they have no road sense and just tend to remain in the middle of the road.

“The accidents happen almost exclusively at night and so they are easily mistaken for possums or hedgehogs,” he says. “However on the Kerikeri peninsular, because of the heavy poisoning and trapping, there are few possums and the brown thing you see in the road is most likely to be a kiwi.

“Please watch out for kiwi when driving and tell friends and family who are visiting and driving the Kerikeri peninsular at night to be careful. Kiwi won't move out of the way when they hear a car. That means you have to go around them or wait for them to move off.”

For more information about the NZ Kiwi Foundation see our website kiwifoundation.org.nz

Keep our kiwi areas pest free and pet free. Pest free + pet free = kiwi are free

To editors: for more information contact Helen Sissons - 021 407 397 - helen@newsjournalism.info