Penguin Killed at Oamaru Harbour

Published on 22 November 2022


Waitaki District Council and the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony would like to remind owners of their obligations around the harbour after a little blue penguin (kororā) was killed by a dog at Ōamaru Harbour on Sunday 20 November.

Waitaki District Council Senior Compliance Officer, Tristan Hope said, “It is nice for dogs to have a swim, but owners need to think about where they do this. The entire Ōamaru Harbour area is a beautiful space to exercise dogs, but it is an on-lead area. This means dogs need to be on their leads and under effective control at all times.”

There is signage that lets the public know that the Ōamaru Harbour area is an on-lead area under the Waitaki Dog Control Bylaw. Additionally, dogs are prohibited in the harbour area between sunset and sunrise. Council is working with the Penguin Colony to update these to ensure everyone is aware of the rules and remind the public of the severity of affecting a protected species in New Zealand.

Any dog owners found breaching the bylaws are liable to receive an infringement fine of $300. Little Blue Penguins are also a protected species and owners of dogs that cause the death of protected wildlife under the Dog Control Act 1996, is liable on conviction imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $20,000, or both. The dog may also be ordered to be destroyed.

The loss of the penguin on Sunday could affect an entire nest as penguins work as a mating team and rely on each other to raise their chicks.

Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony Science and Environmental Manager, Dr Philippa Agnew said, “We have been lucky enough to have an extended breeding season with the first eggs spotted in May. The chicks in the colony are close to fledging so we really want to send a strong reminder to please keep your dogs on their lead while visiting the Ōamaru Harbour area.”

Dog owners can set an example to other owners by keeping their dogs on lead as there are a variety of wildlife at the harbour including Shags who are also breeding. Dr Philippa Agnew continued, “Shag chicks are also beginning to fledge in the harbour area, please keep your dogs away from these young birds too.”

If any member of the public was a witness or has any further information about Sunday’s incident, please contact Council on 03 433 0300.