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Penguin protest . . . More than 35 South Canterbury penguin supporters turned out for a protest on Tuesday against Timaru District Council plans to allow dogs on Caroline Bay during summer mornings. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

It was a march for the penguins outside the Timaru District Council offices on Tuesday.

More than 35 South Canterbury penguin supporters gathered outside the council offices to protest potential changes to the dog control bylaw that would allow dogs at Caroline Bay during the morning in summer.

The current bylaw bans dogs from the beach from October to March every year, which helps protect the little blue penguin colony at the port end of the bay.

Timaru Penguins spokesman Peter Bennett was pleased with the turnout to the protest.

“It’s brilliant.”

Mr Bennett and fellow Timaru Penguins members have been circulating a petition opposing any changes to the bylaw, and have gathered more than 1000 signatures online and hundreds more on paper.

“It just goes to show that a lot of silent residents support this.”

He was pleased with the turnout to the protest and the number of car horns tooting in response to one protester’s “Toot If You Love Penguins” sign.

Forest and Bird South Canterbury representative Ines Stager said Forest and Bird supported Timaru Penguins’ stance and the public response to the campaign to keep dogs off the bay had been great.

If the bylaw was changed, dog owners would be able to walk their pooches on the beach between 5am-9am from October to March.

At present dogs are allowed on the beach at all times between April and September.

Mr Bennett has previously told The Courier allowing dogs at the bay at 5am, when it was still dark in October and March, would interfere with adult penguins heading out to sea before dawn.

The council was due to discuss changes to the dog bylaw on Tuesday afternoon, but the outcome of the discussions was not known before The Courier deadline.