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Rare visitor to region

Dog owners around Flat Point and Glenburn are advised to keep a cautious eye out for a vulnerable crested penguin that has come ashore on the Wairarapa coast to moult.

The Department of Conservation [DoC] received reports of the penguin on Wednesday afternoon from members of the public who had spotted the unusual creature.

A DoC spokesperson said it is likely to be an erect-crested penguin from the Subantarctic Islands, most probably from Antipodes Island or Bounty Island.

The Times-Age reported on an almost identical visitation in February last year, where a crested penguin turned up on the beach near Mangatoetoe for its moulting season.

The spokesperson said that at this time of year, crested penguins must stay on land while moulting and the new arrival will be very vulnerable to dog attacks for the next couple of weeks.

“Penguins have a strong smell that dogs find irresistible,” the spokesperson said.

“Moving vulnerable species such as penguins is always an option because one uncontrolled dog is all it takes to kill or seriously injure it.

“Unfortunately, dog attacks on moulting penguins are not uncommon.”

However, the spokesperson said the penguin will be left where it is at this stage, but encouraged anyone spotting activity that puts it at risk to report it.

“We don’t know how many dog walkers visit the area, but we have already had a couple of reports of people encountering the penguin in its first few days ashore.

“If we have further cause for concern, such as dogs in the area, we will reconsider moving it.”

The moulting period is around three weeks, and the spokesperson requested anyone who spots the penguin to give it plenty of space and keep dogs under control.

    For any other unusual animal sightings or to make any activity reports, contact DoC’s 24 hour hotline on 0800 362 468 [0800 DOC HOT].

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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