Reports of dogs being spotted on pest-free islands in the Hauraki Gulf are on the rise, as Department of Conservation (DOC) officers spend a lot of their time policing the shorelines.
A 1News camera captured the moment a dog owner was caught red-handed while heading in a dinghy to Te Motu-a-Ihenga / Motuihe Island.
The island, a short boat ride from Auckland, is a popular spot for day trips. It’s been pest-free since 2005.
DOC ranger Emma Dunning said that “even the best-behaved and trained dogs still pose a risk to our wildlife”.
“We have a lot of wildlife that live and nest on the shore, but we also have lots of skinks and geckos and other invertebrates that live in long grasses around the edges.”
While dogs have been banned on the islands for years to protect conservation efforts, boundaries are being pushed.
DOC investigations officer Neal Phillips said there’s been “an increase in dogs coming onto the island”.
“Particularly early in the morning or at dusk, there were footprints sighted on sand,” he said.
Anyone caught with dogs on the islands can face a fine of up to $800, while repeat offenders could be prosecuted.
“People obviously know the rules but they try and avoid dealing with us when we are here and so they sneak around,” Phillips said.
Conservation efforts have seen native species, including kiwi and saddleback, successfully reintroduced on the island.
DOC rangers regularly monitor the area for rats, stoats and other threats.