The Hauraki Gulf has 47 pest-free islands home to threatened native species including takahē, Coromondel brown kiwi, tīeke/saddleback, pōpokotea/whitehead, tūturuata/shore plover and pāteke/brown teal.
Staff from the two agencies have received reports of people breaking the rules over the busy summer recreational boating period.
DOC Senior Biodiversity Ranger, David Wilson says dogs can do considerable damage to recovering bird populations in a very short amount of time, by killing or injuring the birds or destroying their nests.
“It is a dog owner’s responsibility to check the Council dog bylaw to find out where they can and cannot take their dog, and where it has to be on a leash,” David Wilson says.
Dogs are prohibited from island reserves under the Reserves Act and anyone caught could face an infringement fine from $200–$800, or a court prosecution, depending on the nature of the offence.
A person who commits an offence against the Reserves Act is liable on conviction to imprisonment up to 12 months or to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or both.
DOC can also enforce the Dog Control Act 1996, which includes penalties of up to three years in prison, or a fine of $20,000 for the owner of a dog that kills protected wildlife. The court can also order the destruction of the dog.
“Anyone planning to visit a pest free island needs to know the rules, and it’s actually pretty simple – dogs are not permitted,” David Wilson says.
Liz Brooks, Auckland Council Pathways Team Manager says; “The gulf islands are a treasure trove of precious and endangered birds and dogs are a real threat to shorebirds and ground-dwelling birds. So, leave the dog at home for the sake of the wildlife and the dog.”
Over the last few months DOC has successfully prosecuted four dog owners whose animals attacked or killed protected wildlife. In each of those cases the court ordered destruction of the dog involved.