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Penguin protectors are disappointed dogs have been roaming out of bounds on Caroline Bay.

Kimberley Collins, a member of the Timaru Penguins Group, has raised concerns after one of the group’s volunteers recently saw a dog roaming in the roped-off area where the protected birds nest.

She said the volunteer approached the dog’s owner to “politely” remind them no dogs were allowed on the beach.

The volunteer alerted the dog’s owner to the fact penguins nest in the area, in case they were not aware.

However, the volunteer was met with verbal abuse and threats, Miss Collins said.

Miss Collins, who takes her chihuahua for walks in the areas not prohibited near the bay, said the key was to be respectful of the roped-off areas.

“It’s a safe haven [for the penguins] and we should respect that, at least.”

The penguins have started returning to Caroline Bay for their breeding season.

She said they were particularly vulnerable at dawn and dusk because that was when they went out to sea to fish or came back on to the beach to feed their chicks.

“We can all help to protect them by keeping dogs off the beach between the first of October to the 31st of March and keeping them out of the roped area when they are allowed on the beach,” she said.

Timaru Penguins Group co-ordinator Peter Bennett said he was disappointed to hear a dog had been roaming in a prohibited area.

He said dogs were naturally attracted to the smell of penguins so it was particularly vital for owners to be cautious and considerate.

“The roped area is for that reason.”

He said it had become evident there were good, middle-of-the-road and bad dog owners.

“Unfortunately, in this life we’ve got to put up with everybody, but it disappoints me if that’s still happening.”

He said Timaru’s dog bylaw was due for review and hoped that might have some influence over changing people’s attitudes.

“We would like to think that the people who own dogs understand there are penguins and other wildlife down at the bay and we need to respect everything and everybody.”