Little blue penguin on the beach
Image: Anita Spencer | DOC

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


DOC is again urging people to keep their dogs under control in coastal areas after a necropsy confirmed the penguin dumped in an Otago bin was killed by a dog.

Date:  05 May 2023

DOC Coastal Otago Senior Ranger Shay van der Hurk says the incident shows how vulnerable our native wildlife can be and highlights the importance of keeping dogs on lead when native species like penguins are around.

He says at least three penguins have been killed by dogs in Otago this year, and its disappointing these preventable incidents keep happening.

The dead kororā/little blue penguin was found in the rubbish bin behind Futomaki restaurant in Port Chalmers on April 26. The restaurant owners reported the find to DOC.

“When we collected the penguin there were bite marks which looked like they had come from a dog. We had the penguin necropsied, which confirmed bite wounds, fractures and internal injuries caused by a dog,” Shay van der Hurk says.

“Kororā are the world’s smallest penguin and they are really vulnerable to dogs. Their population is declining so it’s important we do what we can to support and protect them. This is a toaka (taonga) species which should be treated with respect.

“We’re asking the dog owner, or anyone with information about this incident, to come forward, by contacting the DOC hotline on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).

Shay van der Hurk says penguin deaths like this are preventable if members of the community take steps like keeping dogs under effective control at all times and giving wildlife the space it needs.

“People need to be aware that any dog, regardless of breed or temperament, is capable of injuring or killing native wildlife. It’s vital people manage their dog responsibly on beaches or other places with native wildlife.”

“While we know these types of incidents are unintentional and upsetting for the dog’s owners, it’s disappointing and frustrating that preventable wildlife deaths like this keep happening.”

Earlier this year, there were two separate incidents in Otago of hoiho/yellow-eyed penguins being harassed by dogs, causing their deaths. A pakeke/sea lion pup was injured and a tarāpuka/red-billed gull was also killed by dogs this year.

The golden rules for dogs:

  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them and keep them under control.
  • Keep your dog close and away from the dunes.
  • If you come across wildlife, put your dog on a lead and lead it away.
  • Warn other dog owners at the location.
  • Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs.
  • Get involved with Lead the Way programme.

If anyone has any information about this incident, or witnesses any wildlife being harassed or attacked, they are urged to contact DOC on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).


Kororā/little blue penguin are the world’s smallest, about 25cm long and weighing approximately a kilogram.

They have a conservation status of “At Risk – Declining”. Threats include dogs, predators like cats and stoats, and cars on coastal roads.


For media enquiries contact:


Back to top