Three charges have been laid against a Kawau Island resident after 14 endangered weka were killed by dogs at Kawau Island Historic Reserve in May this year.
The defendant is charged with allowing his dogs to enter a Department of Conservation reserve on two separate occasions, and with being the owner of dogs that attacked and killed protected wildlife — a charge that carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine. He is due to appear in Warkworth District Court on December 8.
DOC’s Warkworth biodiversity manager Rory Renwick says it is important dog owners realise the consequences to endangered wildlife of not having their dog under control, and that they can be prosecuted.
“Sadly this event demonstrates the large amount of damage to wildlife even one dog can do if allowed to roam on conservation land,” he says.
Dogs are not permitted in DOC’s Kawau Island reserves, which make up about 10 per cent of the island. The rest of the island is privately owned.
“There are about 60 residents on Kawau Island and many are responsible dog owners who recognise the importance of keeping dogs out of reserves. Even outside of the dog control areas, dog owners need to ensure their dogs are under control at all times,” says Mr Renwick.
“This practically means within a fenced section or on a lead. No matter how well trained and looked after a dog is, most retain natural instincts to hunt and can kill native wildlife. For this reason dogs are not permitted anywhere on island conservation reserves in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.”
Kawau Island is home to over a third of New Zealand’s North Island weka population. North Island brown kiwi are also found on the island, and both species are vulnerable to dog attacks.
North Island weka
The North Island weka is a nationally endangered sub-species. Over the past 25 years, numbers have fallen from 100,000 to less than 10,000. The cause of the decline of this once widespread bird is largely unknown, but predation by dogs, ferrets, cats and stoats, as well as disease and drought are considered to be major contributors.
Hauraki Gulf Island Restorations
DOC is working with community trusts on a number of ambitious island restoration programmes around the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The islands provide a safe haven for many of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered species and offer unique opportunities for people to experience our native wildlife.