Resident wants to protect penguins

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014
timaru penguins greg adams
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/fairfax NZ

BIRD WATCH: Greg Adams wants to do his bit to protect Timaru's penguins, which he believes are at risk of predators, including cats. he has suggested trapping cats, if it means keeping the penguins safe.

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Predators could destroy Timaru's bustling blue penguin colony, a concerned resident says.

Greg Adams, of Wanderer Backpackers, fears rats, stoats and cats, among other predators, will target the penguins living at Caroline Bay if some form of pest control is not set up.

He has contacted the Department of Conservation, Environment Canterbury and the Timaru District Council in the hope they would assist.

TDC parks and recreation manager Bill Steans agrees the penguins are likely to be at risk to predators.

"I'm not aware of any stoats, but they are pretty tenacious animals so they could be down there. I wouldn't be surprised if there were rats, and over a period of time we've had an issue with cats, with people dumping them off."

He said chicks were particularly vulnerable to predators.

DOC's penguin spokesperson was not available for comment yesterday.

Mr Adams, a self-proclaimed guardian of the penguins, recently discovered one of the birds dead under a rock. He said it appeared to have been savaged.

He said, if protected, the penguins would be a great asset to the community and he wants to ensure they are well cared for so they can prosper.

The penguins have started attracting visitors to the area, with up to a dozen people at a time, Mr Adams said.

"Imagine what it's going to do for Timaru? We've got to help these birds along."

Mr Adams said there were several ways people could help, including providing funding or assisting with pest control.

He also plans to set up a group so night time supervision can take place, and wants to create a 50 metre clearance between the rocks and walkway.

Penguins centre of attention

Penguins are becoming the centre of attention as work continues to protect the birds along Timaru's shoreline.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has spent the past two years conducting a penguin count. There were 42 adults recorded last year, and 11 chicks.

DOC partnership ranger George Iles has placed interpretation panels along Marine Parade to help protect the growing colony.

The panels are designed to inform the public what the penguins are doing at different stages of the year, the best way to go about watching them and to encourage people to protect the birds.

The Timaru Yacht and Power Boat Club, and DOC, have also developed the area around the club to protect the blue penguins living there. Representatives of the two groups met in October last year to start the work, planting trees and shrubs.

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- The Timaru Herald

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