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Dog Attack Believed To Have Killed 19 Gulls In Kaikōura

Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura and the Department of Conservation are reminding people to control dogs in coastal areas after 19 gulls/tarāpunga were found dead at Kaikōura’s South Bay, seemingly killed by a dog or dogs.

DOC South Marlborough Senior Biodiversity Ranger Pat Crowe says in coastal areas, dogs should be kept under control as they pose a threat to birds and seals.

“A member of the public reported the gull deaths to us on Friday 8 March and a DOC ranger found 17 adults and two juveniles dead with injuries that appeared to be caused by a small dog or dogs. Dogs are required to be on a lead in the area the gulls were found.

“The red-billed gull/tarāpunga is a protected native species and DOC and Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura view the harming of them very seriously. Tarāpunga are a taonga species for Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura.

“It’s extremely disheartening to see wildlife killed in such a needless and preventable way. We work hard to protect gulls and other nesting birds around Kaikōura Peninsula from pest animals so it’s tough to see such a large number of birds killed by a domestic animal.

“We’re appealing for anyone who has information about the gull deaths to contact us on our DOC 24-hour number 0800 DOCHOT/0800 362 468.

Red-billed gulls are commonly seen in coastal areas, but their numbers nationally are declining at an alarming rate. The species currently has a conservation status of ‘at-risk: declining’.

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“Kaikōura Peninsula is a stronghold for the species with around 3000 pairs nesting there annually.”

Under the Dog Control Act 1996, the owner of a dog that seriously injures or kills protected wildlife can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined up to $20,000, or both, if convicted. The court can also order the dog or dogs involved to be destroyed.

Pat Crowe says keeping dogs under control in coastal areas enables dogs and wildlife to safely share beaches.

“Dog owners should keep their dogs on a lead, not only to protect wildlife but also to keep their dog safe. We have witnessed seals attack unsuspecting dogs in the past.”

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