Own Dog? Know Rules

DOC is urging dog owners to ensure they only take dogs where allowed and to keep their dogs under control after two little blue penguins/kororā were killed by dogs in two separate incidents in Tasman in recent months.

Infringement notice fees totalling $1400 were issued to the owners of two dogs in relation to the penguin deaths.

One dog killed a little blue penguin at Observation Bay on the Abel Tasman coast, resulting in DOC infringement notice fees of $1200. A family had taken the dog to the beach and the dog had gone into bush and returned with the penguin in its mouth. Dogs are not allowed in Abel Tasman National Park or in that part of the Abel Tasman Foreshore Scenic Reserve.

Tasman District Council issued an infringement notice fee of $200 to another dog owner for failing to control her dog after it killed a little blue penguin at Tapu Bay, Kaiteriteri. Dogs are allowed off-lead at Tapu Bay, but the owner had a moment of inattention towards her dog, and it pulled the penguin out of a burrow. The owner immediately arranged for the penguin to receive veterinary treatment but it died 12 hours later.

DOC Motueka Biodiversity Ranger Leon Everett says dog owners have responsibility for ensuring they know where they can take their dogs, what dog control rules apply and for controlling their dogs to keep native wildlife safe.

“Keeping dogs under control in areas they are allowed enables dogs and wildlife to safely share beaches and other places.

“It’s a legal requirement for dog owners to carry a lead in public, even in an off-lead area. Dog owners should also be able to call their dog back straight away, not only to protect wildlife but also to keep their dog safe.

“On the beach, walk with dogs on the wet sand to avoid little blue penguin burrows in cliff faces and rocky banks and to prevent disturbing shorebird nesting areas in sand dunes or around driftwood. Stay clear of groups of resting shorebirds to avoid stressing them.

“Little blue penguins are not only vulnerable when moving between the sea and their nests at dawn and dusk, but also while in their burrows.

“Penguins and other ground dwelling native birds can’t escape dogs easily. It takes just a second for a dog to cause a fatal injury to a penguin so owners need to be attentive to their dog’s behaviour and be able to recall them immediately if they’re showing interest in wildlife.”

A DOC-led 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.

/Public Release. View in full here.