The death of another North Island brown kiwi on the road at Doves Bay, Kerikeri, has prompted a long-time resident to ask: what will it take for drivers to slow down?
Ross Lockyer a resident of Doves Bay Road and a trustee of the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation found the male brown kiwi dead by the side of the road near his house on Sunday.
The body was only metres from a “Protect Our Kiwi” sign and two painted kiwis on the road – all supposed to warn drivers to be careful.
The Department of Conservation confirmed that the kiwi was male and had indeed been killed by a car. There was severe crushing trauma to the neck, left shoulder and right rump.
“I was absolutely pissed off,” said Ross. “I have spent years trapping, poisoning and shooting pests such as possums, rats, stoats and feral cats as well as ensuring dogs in this area are on leads - all to protect our kiwi and this is just heartbreaking.”
He was walking his dog on its lead when he spotted the feathers in the mown grass at the side of the road.
“I recognised them immediately as kiwi feathers and my heart dropped. I followed the track of feathers into the long grass and sure enough, about 2 metres away it was lying there.”
From where the feathers were strewn, the site of the body and its injuries Ross could tell it'd been hit on its upper body and had crawled into the grass to die.
According to DoC figures, about 3 kiwi every year for the past 10 years have been killed on the short stretch of Rangitane, Opito Bay and Doves Bay Roads.
DoC believes some drivers, thinking kiwi are possums, speed up and deliberately run them over.
But kiwi can look very like a possum at night, says Adrian Walker, DoC's Programme Manager Biodiversity Assets in the Bay of Islands area office.
He added: “Drivers should slow down at night in kiwi areas and not purposefully run things over as they could well be kiwi. This is another tragic loss for kiwi in the area and the population just doesn't need it.”
For Ross the added sadness is that the dead kiwi is one of those which roam his land.
He said: “It's like having a family pet, like a cat or a dog, being killed on the road. We heard him call most nights and we wanted very much to protect him.”