Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


"Pets kill wildlife too” is the message from DOC and Taranaki Regional Council after results show two blue penguins found dead by New Plymouth’s Breakwater were victims of dog attack.

Date:  01 February 2019

The little blue penguins/kororā were discovered near Port Taranaki last week by Chaddy from Chaddy’s Charters. Halema Jamieson, scientific officer for the Taranaki Regional Council collected them and said the community is working hard to protect native wildlife like these penguins by reducing predators in their neighbourhoods. “It is all part of Predator Free Taranaki and it’s extremely disappointing to see them killed in such a needless and preventable way.”

Another blue penguin body was reported nearby but the people who found it threw it in the water and it wasn’t recovered.

Necropsy results from Massey University indicate the two penguins had been attacked by a dog. It is likely the third penguin was also killed by a dog.

There have been 42 blue penguin deaths due to dog attack documented in the Taranaki region since 2007, says DOC Senior Ranger Biodiversity Callum Lilley. “That’s just the ones we know about – it could be a fraction of the actual number.”

Lilley says people refuse to believe their pet dog would kill a penguin, but penguins are very attractive targets to even well-trained dogs big or small. “They are small, smelly, unable to defend themselves and run when chased.”

The penguins will be particularly vulnerable over the next couple of months as they come into moult. 

“It is really frustrating that the message just isn’t getting through to people – you must control your dog at all times. It should preferably be on a leash. If it is off-leash it should be close, well controlled and near the waterline.”

Everyone has a responsibility to look after wildlife, says Lilley. “Whether that be controlling your dog or educating friends and whanau about controlling their dogs.”

Keep dogs away from near dunes, vegetation, rocks or caves where penguins may shelter or burrow. Little penguins are protected under the Wildlife Act, and owners of dogs who hunt or kill absolutely protected wildlife could face prosecution. The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine.


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