Seven penguins found dead at creek mouth

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The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony will have trouble investigating the deaths of seven penguins on Monday because there is not enough information, research scientist Philippa Agnew says.

Members of the public found the penguins at the mouth of the Oamaru Creek on Monday morning.

Ms Agnew said the circumstances of the birds’ deaths were unknown, but staff members were in the process of finding out more information by talking to the people who found the penguins.

“Apparently, a few birds got caught up in some wire but I don’t know the circumstances, so I don’t know if that’s the reason they died.

They did not have any wounds and may have just ended up near the wire, she said.

“I really just don’t know.

“If it’s due to some sort of interference then it’s disappointing and it’s a shame, but I don’t want to point the finger, as it could have been natural.”

The birds appeared to have been there for a couple of days, as they were starting to decay, she said.

Because of their state, an autopsy was not viable and they were buried.

“Usually if they came in fresh, we would freeze them.”

With no way of getting information from the bodies and with nobody seeing what happened it made it hard to investigate the situation, she said.

“Where do we start?”

Ms Agnew said she would be contacting the Department of Conservation but it was unlikely that they would become involved because it did not look as though the penguins had been tampered with and there was not enough evidence to be followed up.

Occasionally, there had been other instances where a number of birds were killed, but a most were from dog attacks and these ones had no wounds.

Another penguin was picked up on the beach at the same time, but did not appear to be related to the deaths of the other birds.

Anyone with information about the incident can contact the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony on 03 433 1195.

By RUBY HARFIELD