Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Hatching of oystercatcher chick at Mount Maunganui Beach sparks fears of dog danger

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Oystercatchers Harry and Sophie are Mount Maunganui's newest parents. Photo/File
Oystercatchers Harry and Sophie are Mount Maunganui's newest parents. Photo/File

The first of the two oystercatcher eggs has hatched on Mount Maunganui Beach sparking fears the chick and its sibling will become a target for roaming dogs.

Western Bay Wildlife Trust spokeswoman Julia Graham said the first chick was spotted poking its head out from under its mother earlier today.

She expected the second egg to hatch soon, possibly within 24 hours.

Ms Graham said the next few weeks would be the "scariest" time for the new family, especially as lots of beach-goers ignored the dog-free zone warning notices.

"There has also been issues with little kids chasing the birds watched on by their parents, which is appalling."

Ms Graham said the oystercatcher parents needed to be given space to feed and raise their young without disturbance, and the roped-off area was there for a good reason.

"These precious little balls of fur are totally defenceless against a dog, and for the next few weeks they're particularly vulnerable. I'm pleading with people to leave their dogs at home and to not to disturb this little family," she said.

Ms Graham said it was important that people showed respect and kept their distance from the nesting parents, nicknamed Harry and Sophie, and their offspring.

Chicks fly when they are between six and seven weeks old.

Ms Graham said as the chicks started to explore their habitat they would become a "moving target" for dogs and other wildlife.

Department of Conversation staff were not available for comment last night.

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