Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC is adopting new tactics to protect wildlife by encouraging dog owners to better control their dogs on beaches and coastlines.

Date:  17 November 2018

Dog owners can become wildlife certified after completing a short online quiz.  They will then receive an exclusive link to purchase one of the four Lead the Way leads in a collaboration with Traffic Light Bandanas.

The colour of the lead highlights their dog’s behaviour. Using the lead lets other dog walkers know whether the pup is friendly (green), cautious (orange) or would prefer to keep to themselves (red). There is even an option for blind or deaf dogs (yellow).

Dog owners are encouraged to share the beach and ensure they keep space between dogs and wildlife. Several endangered species, including rāpoka (New Zealand sea lion), kekeno (New Zealand fur seal), kororā (little penguin) and hoiho (yellow-eyed penguin) are at risk from dog attacks. 

Lead the Way is an initiative which aims to promote responsible dog ownership and reduce negative dog interactions with coastal wildlife. 

“As populations start to recover, these endangered species are showing up unexpectedly on beaches more often, even around coastal cities like Dunedin and Wellington,” says Community Ranger, Jesikah Triscott.

“There’s a huge amount of wildlife around coastlines and harbours which largely goes unseen, but their unique smell attracts curious dogs.

“This is a threat to species that is within our control. We want dog owners to know that it’s possible to share the beach, but it’s important that dogs are either on a lead or trained to be called back quickly.”

Marine Science Advisor Laura Boren sees benefits for both dogs and wildlife.

“Interactions with kekeno and rāpoka can also be dangerous for dogs, so being better prepared on the beach means we can reduce the risks to both vulnerable species and dogs.”

Recent attacks on wildlife by dogs

October 2018 – a dog off lead attacked and killed a seal pup at West Shore, Napier

September 2018 – dog attacked a seal around Pines Beach area, Canterbury

September 2018 – a labrador attacked and killed a young male kekeno/fur seal in Invercargill

August 2018 – suspected dog attack on a leopard seal in Porirua – seal was left with bloody face.

July 2018 – Northland brown kiwi found dead by group of dog walkers on Long Beach, Russell, Bay of Islands – death consistent with a dog attack.

May 2018 – two hoiho/yellow eyed penguins killed by dogs along the Catlins coast.

January 2018 – Snares crested penguin killed by dog at Kakanui, near Oamaru.

2017 – three seals killed by dogs on Christchurch beaches

In January 2017 dogs killed eight little penguins in Coromandel and Canterbury

2016 – 24 fatal attacks on penguins by dogs were recorded in the Western Bay of Plenty area alone.

Lead the Way launch

DOC will launch the Lead the Way initiative on 17 November in:

Dunedin: At the Otago Farmers Market, Dunedin Railway Station, Anzac Ave. Saturday 17 November, 8 am to 12.20 pm.

Wellington: Pet Expo Te Rauparaha Arena, (17 Parumoana St. Porirua). Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm, special demo Saturday17 November at 1 pm.


Jesikah Triscott, Community Ranger, Dunedin
Phone: +64 3 477 0677
Mobile: +64 27 615 5710

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