The cost of discovering what killed nearly 60 yellow-eyed
penguins on Otago Peninsula could put pressure on tight
The threat to the colony appears to have eased in the past
week. Only one dead penguin was discovered in that time by
Department of Conservation, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust,
private landowners and volunteers who are regularly
monitoring nesting sites.
Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust general manager Sue Murray said as
testing so far had failed to pinpoint the cause. More
extensive testing would probably be needed.
''To get to the bottom of this, we're going to need technical
expertise and we have to buy in these services at huge
It was vital to find the cause of the deaths so if it
happened again the trust understood how to manage or mitigate
the problem, to save penguins' lives, she said.
''The financial strain is huge.''
So far the testing had been funded by Doc, the Ministry for
Primary Industries and Massey University.
The trust was helping out in other ways, as it did not have
the capital reserves to inject into the problem, Ms Murray
''We'd be looking for an injection of external funding in a
Doc biodiversity programme manager Dave Agnew said, as it was
an unplanned event, funding for the laboratory testing was
coming out of existing budgets.
The costs of testing so far had not been too expensive, as
only three penguins had been tested, but further testing
would come at a cost, as more toxins or agents would need to
investigated. Doc was taking its lead from Massey University
staff, who were advising the department on what testing to
It was hoped when all the results came in, a paper could be
written bringing together all aspects of the ''mass deaths''
so those involved in caring for the penguins could learn from
Doc had a contract with Massey to undertake postmortems on
native species, so those done on the penguins had not
resulted in additional costs.
Investigations to determine the cause of deformities in
penguin chicks on the peninsula a few years ago cost about
$10,000, Mr Agnew said.