It's Christmas - spare a thought for the kiwi. The gift our native bird is most likely to receive these holidays is a huge increase in the number of hungry cats and dogs roaming the bush.
As most of us are preparing for the season of goodwill, some animal owners will be planning to dump unwanted pets either because they want to go away or they have become tired of looking after them.
Greg Blunden of the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation estimates that dozens of kiwi are killed every year by abandoned pets:
“Often it is the very place that kiwi live that these animals are dumped - remote areas with dense bush. A couple of weeks ago we found five live kittens in a shopping bag left at the side of the road near Marsden Cross. If these cats had escaped, part of their diet would have been kiwi chicks.”
Another litter of kittens, six week old Aslan, Rosco and Santa were discovered in a box at public toilets in Okaihau. They were just three of the 40 kittens, 12 adult cats, 33 puppies and 18 adult dogs taken in by the SPCA in Kerikeri in the last two weeks.
These are the lucky ones. Many more unwanted pets are dumped and not found. They either die or must survive in the wild. For our kiwi, these abandoned animals pose an enormous threat. In the animals' struggle to survive they turn on this most vulnerable of our birds.
Gail Holm-Hansen of the Bay of Islands SPCA says: “The scale of the feral problem is pretty huge. I know of 5 wild colonies in the Bay of Islands. When these are in bush, it is very difficult to catch them and they can do a lot of damage.”
At the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation, Greg Blunden asks that all Northlanders remember the kiwi this Christmas.
Keep our Kiwi areas pest free and pet free to allow our Kiwi to be free. Free to live and free to breed.
Pest free + pet free = Kiwi are free