Four toroa/northern royal albatross eggs have gone missing from Dunedin's Taiaroa Head/Pukekura colony.
DOC compliance officers and police are investigating, after the eggs were found to be missing during routine checks on Thursday morning.
DOC Coastal Otago operations manager Annie Wallace says the event is "unusual" as the colony has been monitored and managed for years and that it's likely the eggs were taken.
"It’s still unclear what has happened, and we are gathering security camera footage and talking to people who may have relevant information. However, it’s thought the eggs may have been taken as there are no signs they were eaten by predators.”
Wallace says toroa are threatened by climate change, habitat loss and plastic pollution and are slow at reproducing, and thus need as much support as possible.
"It will be extremely disappointing if someone has taken these eggs.
“This is devastating for our staff who put in countless hours caring for these birds in challenging conditions, keeping them cool on hot days, working to prevent flystrike, and providing supplementary feeds to underweight chicks.”
Te Rūnanga o Ōtakou Chair Rachel Wesley says the hapū from Ōtākou are deeply concerned by the disappearance as they have a close affinity with the colony.
“Due to the slow breeding cycle and vulnerable status of toroa, any loss of eggs or chicks from natural causes is disappointing, but the unexplained nature of this particular incident, and especially with the suggestion it may be people who are responsible, is absolutely devastating.
“I hope answers to their whereabouts will be found quickly and the eggs of this important taoka species still remain viable.”
Toroa are protected under the Wildlife Act and it is an offence to harm or disturb them.