Avoidance training for dogs to protect native birds

Training lessons for dogs to keep them away from kiwis.

Training lessons for dogs to keep them away from kiwis.

PROTECTING NATIVE BIRDS: Conservation groups like Ecoworks are working hard to build up kiwi populations on the East Coast. Whisker the kiwi (pictured) was released into the wild at Whinray Scenic Reserve in 2015. Dogs, regardless of size, breed or temperament, are one of the most significant threats to kiwi, and so the Department of Conservation and conservation charity Kiwis for kiwi have teamed up to develop a bird awareness and avoidance-training programme. Picture supplied

FOR people who are keen to take their dogs on to conservation land, the Department of Conservation (DoC) suggests they enrol their dogs in kiwi-avoidance training.

Dogs, regardless of size, breed or temperament, are one of the most significant threats to kiwi. Often encounters between the two species end with the death of the kiwi.

Earlier this year, dead kiwi were found in Northland and the Coromandel after being mauled by dogs.

As conservation groups work to increase the amount of native birdlife on the East Coast, including kiwi, the risk of dog attacks increases.

Kiwi-aversion trainer, Willy Marsh, will be conducting workshops in April and May in Hawke’s Bay and in April at Waikaremoana.

DoC and conservation charity Kiwis for kiwi have teamed up to develop a bird awareness and avoidance-training programme.

The programme trains dogs to avoid New Zealand’s ground-dwelling native birds, and educates their owners about best practices for bringing dogs into the bush.

Mr Marsh says any form of prevention helps to enhance the survival of New Zealand’s native birds.

“The goal of training is to lessen the risk dogs pose to kiwi,” he says.

“Training is followed up by testing continued avoidance within twelve months of the original training.”

The urgent need to safeguard kiwi means embracing a variety of innovative approaches and aversion training is one of the variety of methods DoC uses.

Wellington man Martin Robertson has put his two dogs through the aversion training.

“The only thing it has changed is how the dogs react to a kiwi smell or sound. They still show keen interest in other birds. I would recommend this training to anyone with dogs.

“Even if you do not hunt it is an awesome thing to do with your dog to reduce the chances of them chasing kiwi.”

For interested dog owners, the workshops will be in Hawke’s Bay on April 2 and May 21, and Waikaremoana on April 29.

Additional dates and locations can be created if there is enough interest.

To register, contact DoC Napier biodiversity ranger Kelly Eaton via keaton@doc.govt.nz or on 027 446 2088.

Details regarding the location will be confirmed once there are enough registrations.

A charge of $20 per dog applies.

FOR people who are keen to take their dogs on to conservation land, the Department of Conservation (DoC) suggests they enrol their dogs in kiwi-avoidance training.

Dogs, regardless of size, breed or temperament, are one of the most significant threats to kiwi. Often encounters between the two species end with the death of the kiwi.

Earlier this year, dead kiwi were found in Northland and the Coromandel after being mauled by dogs.

As conservation groups work to increase the amount of native birdlife on the East Coast, including kiwi, the risk of dog attacks increases.

Kiwi-aversion trainer, Willy Marsh, will be conducting workshops in April and May in Hawke’s Bay and in April at Waikaremoana.

DoC and conservation charity Kiwis for kiwi have teamed up to develop a bird awareness and avoidance-training programme.

The programme trains dogs to avoid New Zealand’s ground-dwelling native birds, and educates their owners about best practices for bringing dogs into the bush.

Mr Marsh says any form of prevention helps to enhance the survival of New Zealand’s native birds.

“The goal of training is to lessen the risk dogs pose to kiwi,” he says.

“Training is followed up by testing continued avoidance within twelve months of the original training.”

The urgent need to safeguard kiwi means embracing a variety of innovative approaches and aversion training is one of the variety of methods DoC uses.

Wellington man Martin Robertson has put his two dogs through the aversion training.

“The only thing it has changed is how the dogs react to a kiwi smell or sound. They still show keen interest in other birds. I would recommend this training to anyone with dogs.

“Even if you do not hunt it is an awesome thing to do with your dog to reduce the chances of them chasing kiwi.”

For interested dog owners, the workshops will be in Hawke’s Bay on April 2 and May 21, and Waikaremoana on April 29.

Additional dates and locations can be created if there is enough interest.

To register, contact DoC Napier biodiversity ranger Kelly Eaton via keaton@doc.govt.nz or on 027 446 2088.

Details regarding the location will be confirmed once there are enough registrations.

A charge of $20 per dog applies.

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