Dog attacks kill two rare hoiho penguins on Otago beaches

Thu, Mar 16

The Department of Conservation is urging dog owners to keep their pets under control following the deaths of two critically-endangered yellow-eyed penguins or hoiho.

The deaths are part of a spate of incidents involving dogs and wildlife on Otago beaches since the beginning of the year. The deaths occurred in two separate cases.

The most recent took place at Purakaunui Bay, where a small dog was roaming off lead and mauled a male hoiho, killing it within seconds.

In a media release, DOC ranger Richard Seed said it was a devastating reminder for all dog owners to keep their pets under control on the beach.

“Hoiho are one of the world’s rarest penguin species, and we are lucky to share our coastline with them. Their population is rapidly declining due to a range of threats on land and at sea."

Earlier this year, DOC says a hoiho was observed being harassed by a dog on St Kilda Beach. The penguin later died from its injuries.

"Disturbance and deaths from dogs is such a needless threat but one that our community can help to stop. That means keeping your dogs under effective control at all times, and giving wildlife plenty of space," Seed said.

“Hoiho are endangered and taonga to Ngāi Tahu. They’re incredibly vulnerable, especially from February to April when they come ashore to moult. They – and all other wildlife, deserve to be able to come ashore and rest.”

Other incidents involving dogs include an off-lead dog grabbing and shaking a sea lion pup on Tomahawk Beach, according to DOC. The sea lion received no permanent injuries.

Meanwhile, in February, a red-billed gull was mauled by a dog on Brighton Beach, it was taken to Dunedin Wildlife Hospital but died from its injuries.

Seed said people should accept that any dog is capable of injuring wildlife.

"We know everyone is horrified when things like this happen, and it’s not intentional.

"We always hear people saying that their dog would never harm wildlife, but people need to understand that any dog, no matter the breed or how well-mannered they are, is capable of injuring or killing wildlife.

"We’ve seen it far too many times," he said.

If anyone has any information, or witnesses any wildlife being harassed or attacked, they are urged to contact DOC.


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