Leave moulting penguins alone: Doc

The Department of Conservation is asking beach-goers and their dogs to give kororā/little blue penguins space when they come ashore to moult.

Kororā adults come ashore between November and March to shed their feathers and grow a new waterproof coat, which takes about two to three weeks. They are especially vulnerable to predation from dogs during their moult, as they cannot swim.

Doc technical adviser ecology Bruce McKinlay urged people not to worry if they saw scruffy penguins, but to keep themselves and their dogs away from them.

"Doc often gets calls about sick-looking penguins at this time of year, but they’re almost always moulting," Mr McKinlay said.

"While it doesn’t look pretty, this is a natural part of the bird’s life cycle, and they grow a new waterproof coat within two weeks."

You can help to keep penguins safe by leashing your dog around penguin areas, keeping dogs away from nests and warning others nearby of the location.

If you see unleashed dogs in penguin areas, or people harassing penguins, call 0800 DOC HOT or contact your local Doc office.