17 Dec 2010

Avian diptheria killing endangered penguins

8:23 pm on 17 December 2010

An outbreak of avian diptheria has affected five breeding sites of the endangered yellow-eye penguin at the southern end of the Otago Peninsula, killing more than 30 chicks.


It is the fourth outbreak since 2002 and the Department of Conservation is working with Massey University to get to the bottom of the problem.

DoC programme manager of biodiversity assets at coastal Otago, David Agnew, says they have some theories.

Mr Agnew told Checkpoint the diptheria is caused by a bacteria they believe is ubiquitous to the environment and in all the adults.

The chicks seem to be susceptible, although if they are not affected in the first three weeks, they are past the vulnerable stage and grow and fledge normally.