Sunday, July 21, 2013

Call to protect penguins after four killed by dog

Four little blue penguins have been killed by a dog at Little Kaiteriteri, and the Department of Conservation is asking people to look out for the protected species.

DOC biodiversity programme manager Bruce Vander Lee said DOC found the bodies of the penguins in the vegetation near the beach at Little Kaiteriteri this week.

Mr Vander Lee said it was unusual to find so many dead penguins together, so DOC took the dead birds to a veterinarian to perform autopsies.

The vet said the birds had horrific crush injuries and puncture marks to their bodies, which meant it was highly likely they were killed by a dog.

Mr Vander Lee said little blues came ashore to nest at this time of the year, and nested until the middle of summer.

He said the birds came ashore after sunset and made their way back to the sea at dawn. They were vulnerable when they came out of the water.

Mr Vander Lee said the public needed to control their dogs when around the birds.

He said little blue penguins nested in burrows or vegetation. The space under houses was also perfect for them, as it was protected, dry and dark.

However, they typically made a lot of noise when they nested, and their nests could be smelly.
DOC is advising people to penguin-proof their houses by blocking places were the birds can get underneath to nest. Mr Vander Lee said DOC could help people with this, and provide nesting boxes to put on their properties so the birds had an alternative, safe place to nest.

Little blue penguins can be seen on beaches around Tasman Bay. They are a protected species.
People wanting a nesting box or to make their houses penguin-proof can call the Motueka DOC office, 03 528 1810.


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