New Zealand's latest heroes
True to New Zealand’s wonderful history of working dogs, the Department of Conservation has created a world-leading Conservation Dogs programme. These highly-trained four-legged conservationists and their handlers do incredible work protecting species like the kākāpō, kiwi and takahē.
Watch the video below to learn more about what it takes to be a conservation dog team with Miriam (the human) and Woody (the dog) — spoiler alert: it’s a lot of work and a lot of love.
Keeping New Zealand safe from invasive predators
We’ve got the highest rate of threatened species in the world. Literally billions of stoats, possums and rats are roaming our country killing, the Department of Conservation estimates, 25 million birds alone each year. If we don’t do something to stop them now, our kids will never get to experience the unique environment we have. That’s why we're proud to partner with DOC and support Predator Free 2050, an ambitious goal to rid New Zealand of the most damaging introduced predators that threaten our nation’s natural taonga.
Supporting the Department of Conservation
Starting in 2016, we've been teaming up with the Department of Conservation to support the Conservation Dogs Programme. We helped fund two full-time dog-handlers and built a robust advocacy programme in our first year. For our second year, we are continuing to support these canine heroes who find our protected species and help catch unwanted pests.
In total, we fund a Senior Ranger, Species Detection Dogs and four pest detection dog handlers. The handlers are located in Wellington, Auckland, Whitianga and Whangarei. While we’ve only been supporting this programme for two years, well trained dog-handler teams have been used for conservation for more than 40 years.
What success looks like
Working together has helped the Department of Conservation strengthen its island biosecurity programme. It's been able to double the amount of quarantine to check for pests and other unwanted hitch-hikers to pest-free islands and sanctuaries as well as surveillance work with the conservation dogs.
Thanks to the success of this partnership, conservation dogs have had a greater presence at ferry terminals and marinas, helping detect the presence of pests and educate boat owners and travellers about the need to watch out for rodent stowaways. Dog handler teams have also been able to visit schools and have a presence at community events such as boat shows to build awareness and support for protecting our natural environment.
Stay up-to-date with the programme
The Conservation Dogs and their talented handlers are active all over New Zealand. You might be lucky enough to meet them at wharves, ferry terminals, island and mainland sanctuaries, in the national parks or perhaps even at your local Kiwibank branch so keep an eye out.