Dunedin dog owners ignoring dog ban signs at reserves
that are home to yellow-eyed penguins risk large fines, and are
threatening the endangered species.
Last week, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust ranger Leith Thomson
caught a group walking a dog at Okia Point, home to more than
15 yellow-eyed penguins.
The dog owner was fined $300 under Dunedin City Council dog
"It's not a dog issue. It's a people issue," Mr Thomson said.
Three signs along the Okia Point track advised of the ban.
Nevertheless, dog owners chose to ignore them, he said.
Trust field manager David McFarlane said yellow-eyed penguins
were most vulnerable in November, when they started raising
their newly hatched chicks.
Yellow-eyed penguins had also been mauled at Aramoana Reserve
A dog could kill a penguin instantly, or cause a slow,
painful death with the penguin unable to forage for food
because of injured flippers.
"We get lots of excuses - our dog won't hurt penguins. We're
sick of the excuses. The evidence is out that dogs kill
penguins," he said.
Domesticated dogs, stoats, rats and wild cats were
yellow-eyed penguins' worst enemies.
Without the resources to monitor every reserve home to
yellow-eyed penguins, the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust was
asking residents to report dog sightings to DCC animal
control, which is committed to prosecuting dog owners
ignoring the signs.
- Cameron Carpenter