Children 'mistreated' penguins

NATASHA THYNE
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014

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The sight of baby penguins being harassed ruined one Timaru woman's New Year eve festivities.

Judy Blakemore was walking to the beach at Caroline Bay when she heard the cries of penguin chicks.

She said she could hear children calling out "I've caught the bird" and could see them among the roped-off sand dunes, picking up the birds and dropping them about 10 metres away.

Mrs Blakemore said she enjoyed watching the penguins at the Bay and to see them being treated in this way made her angry.

She decided not to intervene but alerted the Department Of Conservation.

DOC biodiversity ranger Steve Harraway said the best thing to do when seeing something like this was to alert DOC via their hotline (0800 362 468) as soon as possible, so a duty officer could get to the scene in a hurry.

He said people needed to be better educated in how to treat native animals.

"Some kids get a wee bit over the top. We need to educate them, that they [baby penguins] are not rag dolls and they need to think about what they are doing."

There is a fine of up to $150,000 for harassing native birds.

■ Were you at Caroline Bay for New Year's Eve? Did you see anything at the dunes?

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- The Timaru Herald

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