Southside penguin mortality increases

Fiordland crested penguin dog kill showing wound Southside 3 July 2016 Following the killing by dogs of two blue penguins at Southside, Hokitika, last year, a Fiordland crested penguin was killed there yesterday, also by a dog.

The DOC hotline (0800 DOC HOT / 362 468) for injured wildlife received a call on Saturday (2 July) about a seriously injured penguin but the bird could not be found.  This morning, just a few hours later, the sad dead body of the once magnificent Fiordland penguin was found at the top of the high tide mark a few hundred metres south of the parking area at the Southside beach access. 

Dog grab and puncture wounds, Fiordland crested penguin, Southside, 3 July 2016

Dog grab and puncture wounds indicated on the Fiordland crested penguin found dead at Southside, Hokitika, 3 July 2016

The dog marks were clear with grab marks and a deep wound to the chest that would have been fatal after a period of painful suffering. 

While looking for the penguin, West Coast Penguin Trust Manager, Inger Perkins, said “I also saw tracks made by blue penguins in the area, so it is important for the many dog owners who exercise their dogs on this wonderful beach and in fact all West Coast beaches to find a way to share the beach safely with penguins, keeping them under control at all times.  Although blue penguins will not normally be on the beach during hours of daylight, they may be if they are sick or injured and, if there is a rare visit by a Fiordland crested penguin, they could be on the beach at any time of day or night, so we ask all dog owners to be vigilant at all times.”

This Fiordland crested penguin was outside its normal range for breeding and foraging (Stewart Island to South Westland) but they are occasionally found further north on West and some East coast beaches, sometimes resting, sometimes sick or injured.  Last year, several were found with injuries consistent with being attacked at sea, probably by barracouta, and some were able to be nursed back to health and released.  However, dog attacks on penguins are almost invariably fatal.

Fiordland penguin killed by a dog at Southside, Hokitika, 3 July 2016

Fiordland penguin killed by a dog at Southside, Hokitika, 3 July 2016

Sometimes those stories need to be told and the sad pictures shared to get the message across.

The Fiordland crested penguin is possibly the second or third rarest penguin in the world, and is Nationally Endangered, near the top of New Zealand’s threatened species list.

With support from the three District Councils on the Coast, the Trust is also distributing friendly reminders to all registered dog owners with the annual dog registration notice.  If you are a dog owner, or if you know a dog owner, please do all you can to ensure dogs share the beaches with penguins safely.

Thank you.Dog leaflet 2016 DL