Kororā are very susceptible to disturbance by people and are also vulnerable to dogs, especially during the birds’ breeding season. At this time of year, while the birds are nesting, any disturbance may result in chicks being abandoned or dying. Penguins can also pick up diseases from people and pets, get sick from being fed strange food, or be injured from rough handling.
DOC Hawke’s Bay Operations Manager Moana Smith-Dunlop says although kororā are cute and cuddly, they are wild birds and should be left alone.
“People appear to think it’s OK to pick up penguins, pat them, and try to feed them and often the goal is just a selfie for social media,” says Moana Smith-Dunlop.
“This is really worrying, especially considering the negative impact this has on the birds and how many times we’ve said this before.
“Essentially, if you interfere with nesting kororā for the sake of a selfie, all you are broadcasting is you don’t respect their welfare.
“If you really care about protecting our treasured wildlife, you’ll leave them alone.”
DOC staff work closely with mana whenua to try and ensure coastal wildlife species are protected and thrive in Hawke’s Bay. This mahi depends heavily on people behaving with care and treating coastal wildlife species with respect wherever they are encountered.
Wildlife like kororā and kekeno (NZ fur seals) are taonga and protected under the Wildlife Act 1953. Offences under this Act can incur serious penalties including fines and imprisonment for offences. DOC aims to follow up on reports wherever possible.