The Department of Conservation has issued a reminder for dog owners after four kororā / little penguins were killed in Wellington in the last month.

The deaths include a known breeding pair at Evans Bay, a chick returning to Island Bay to breed for the first time, and an adult that was attacked a metre from its burrow at Lyall Bay, DOC said today on social media.

All of the incidents were reported to Forest & Bird – Places for Penguins.

The kororā were taken for independent necropsies at Wellington Zoo to confirm cause of death.

Adult kororā came ashore between May and June to prepare nests for the breeding season, and could often be seen early in the mornings and in the evenings.

“They don’t know the difference between an on-leash and off-leash beach [for dogs], and can pop up anywhere along the coast, so it is important we do our best to keep them safe,” DOC said.

Dog owners have been advised to keep their animals under control at urban beaches, noting that “even good dogs can harm wildlife”.

DOC advised people to keep their dogs on a leash in on-leash beach areas; steer clear of any areas where they aren’t permitted; check if any wildlife is present “so you are one step ahead of your dog” and let other dog owners know; and have a toy handy to distract your dog if wildlife does show up.

In off-leash areas, dog owners should make sure they can confidently recall their dog when needed.

Anyone who spots wildlife that is injured or in danger has been asked to call DOC on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).