Two kororā sharing a burrow on Motunau island
Image: Andy Thompson | DOC


DOC staff are deeply frustrated about the lack of pet dog control in the Wellington region, after three kororā/little blue penguins were found dead from suspected dog attacks at Evans Bay Marina last week.

Date:  08 July 2024

This year DOC staff have seen a worrying number of dog attacks on penguins. Since December 2023, of those reported to DOC, a total of eight penguins have been confirmed as being killed by dogs. A further seven birds were unconfirmed as to cause of death, but sustained injuries consistent with dog attacks.

Although Wellington City Council recently erected fencing and a sign warning of fines for unleashed dogs, an eyewitness saw a dog near penguin nesting boxes within the fenced area. They also heard one of the penguins being attacked and, although they attempted to scare the dog away, it was too late.

Angus Hulme-Moir, DOC Operations Manager for Kapiti-Wellington, says the team is shocked.

“There is a whole community who are deeply upset by the deaths of these kororā,” says Angus. “These are beautiful birds whose habitat and home we share, and an easy way for us to do this is to leash dogs in designated areas. If you are unsure about dog access in a particular area, check with the nearest local council or DOC office or before you set out.”

“There are plenty of areas where dogs are allowed to remain unleashed, where they don’t pose a risk to wildlife; if you want to keep your dog off leash, just go there instead.”

“The saddest part is these penguins’ deaths were completely avoidable if people simply followed the rules.”

All three kororā found last week were microchipped, and part of an established colony monitored by Places for Penguins volunteers in the area.

If people ignore dog access rules or conditions, they may be issued an infringement fine or prosecuted. A dog can also be seized and impounded or destroyed if it is found in a controlled dog area without a permit.

The Lead the Way initiative is trying to avoid these situations through advocacy and awareness, by empowering dog owners to share the beach safely with wildlife.

Members of the public can report dogs where they are not allowed to DOC by calling

  • 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).


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