Rena penguins attacked by dogs

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There's no rest for some of these rescued penguins, now they're being attacked by dogs. Photo / Alan Gibson
There's no rest for some of these rescued penguins, now they're being attacked by dogs. Photo / Alan Gibson

First they were covered in Rena's oil, now Bay of Plenty penguins are being attacked by dogs.

There had been an increase in the number of sea birds being mauled by dogs on Bay beaches, Oropi Native Bird Rescue Haven manager Christine Jefferson said.

The seven birds in her care had been attacked by dogs after they came to shore exhausted from swimming in the ocean.

"After a day swimming these poor little things have got on to the beach and all they want is a rest before they go to their burrows. The dog sees this poor tired little thing that's just come out of the water and it's fair game,'' she said.

"Some of them [dogs], will just bite them and go on their way ... [but] we've actually got one that was pulled from its burrow by its legs. Its stomach was ripped and its little feet.

"Some of them are not as lucky and they get grabbed by the head. And that's where you get the teeth going into their eyes and blinding them.''

Mrs Jefferson, who owns dogs, said it was up to owners to better control their animals.

"There's a heck of a lot of responsible dog owners out there but there's others who are not.

"I just think dogs should be under control. That's all it is,'' Mrs Jefferson said.

"I have no objection to the dog being off the leash if it's nearby, but if it's 200m down the beach then they're not being controlled.''

The penguins are likely to remain in danger until the end of summer.

Adult penguins were currently moulting, which meant that for three weeks they were not waterproof and must remain on land.

There were also plenty of young birds in the area following the summer breeding season and they can be easy prey for curious dogs, Mrs Jefferson said.

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