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Penguin deaths spark warning to dog owners

Wednesday, January 25, 2017   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: environment, conservation

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 24th January 2017

Dog owners are being urged to keep their animals under control, after a spate of attacks on Little Blue Penguins along the Canterbury coastline.

Volunteers have reported the death of three penguins over the last two weeks due to apparent dog attacks, and Christchurch City Council Animal Management Officers are warning dog owners to keep their animals under control on or near beaches.

Dog owners must know the local city or district dog regulations, including where and when ‘on leash’ and ‘prohibited’ areas are, said Council Team Leader Animal Management Mark Vincent. 

Dog running through sand dune following two cyclists.“Dogs must not be allowed to roam unsupervised from properties, especially near the coast. Also when exercising on the beach, even if dogs are in 'off leash - but under effective control' areas, they must be under immediate verbal control,” Mr Vincent said.

“If they are not able to be restrained when called then they should be on a leash at all times. This is for the welfare of not only other dogs and beach users, but also vulnerable wildlife such as penguins.”

Council Parks Unit Advisor Rodney Chambers said Little Blue Penguins were some of the most shy and vulnerable citizens living within the Christchurch city limits.

“Mostly they pass unseen, being active before sunrise and after sunset. Despite this both Council and DoC Rangers regularly respond to reports of sick and injured birds around our coast and beaches. Both specialist vets and volunteers then care for these birds and later release them back into the wild,” Mr Chambers said.

“Rangers and volunteers monitor and protect nesting areas as best they can from predators such as stoats and wild cats, but one of the most dangerous threats to penguin welfare is the large number of dogs which enjoy exercising on our beaches. Their sense of smell, natural curiosity and innate hunting instinct make them one of the major hazards for our ground nest birds.”

Mr Chambers said Council Rangers and Animal Welfare staff were asking for dog owners to be particularly aware of ground-nesting and roosting birds, including penguins, dotterel, godwits and oystercatchers, and to keep dogs away from sign-posted nesting areas.

“Dog owners are reminded that it is their responsibility to know the local city or district dog regulations, including where and when the 'on leash' and 'prohibited' areas are. Christchurch City Council has numerous dedicated dog parks and exercise areas, including The Groynes Dog Park, Horseshoe Lake Reserve Dog Park, Bexley Reserve Dog Park, Rawhiti Domain Dog Park, Styx Mill Reserve Dog Park, Victoria Park Dog Park, Bottle Lake Forest Park, Halswell Quarry Dog and Radley Park Dog Exercise Areas.”

Parks staff and Animal Management Officers would continue to patrol popular beach areas to advise dog owners of any Bylaw issues and wildlife concerns they are aware of and to assist dog owners to care for both their dogs and the city's special wildlife inhabitants.

Find out more on the Council’s Dog Control Policy.

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch