Professional snipers have been brought in to guard a vulnerable colony of penguins in Australia.

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Potograph source

The deployment follows the mysterious deaths of nine of the flightless birds over the last two weeks.

The mutilated bodies of the animals, known as fairy penguins, were found in a national park near Sydney harbour.

The main suspects are dogs and foxes. At 40cm tall, the world’s smallest penguin species is clearly no match for such aggressive enemies.

I am shocked. SHOCKED! That the Fairy Penguin (aka the “little penguin, Eudyptula minor) is the smallest species of penguin. I thought that honor went to the adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae).

Story source, which has a video

Comments

  1. #1 Jason Thibeault
    July 16, 2009

    This is awesome on a number of levels.

  2. #2 Virgil Samms
    July 16, 2009

    Imagine how shocked you will be when you find out that they dig burrows.

  3. #3 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2009

    So the dogs are imports. Are the foxes too? And mutilated, not eaten?

    I guess I find myself wondering whether some new type of predation is going on here or whether we’ve just let the situation with these penguins get bad enough that a statistical blip in the numbers killed makes a good excuse for intervention.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    July 16, 2009

    The foxes are imports as well.

    One thing that predators do is this: They pick a prey and stick with it until it is rare. Then they switch to a different prey that is more common. So, you can get sudden shifts if what predators are doing.

    Personally, I think it’s the Chickenman. The Chickenman went to Australia and is eating (partially eating) the penguins.

  5. #5 Stephanie Z
    July 16, 2009

    Good point on the predators. Still, some of the language in the reporting has been so OTT (“murder” and “mutilation”) as to make me wonder whether someone is playing up relatively normal events to mobilize immediate public attention.

    Penguin tastes like chicken, huh? Go figure. Although I’d think Chickenman would be on the other side of this.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    July 16, 2009

    Chickenman normally eats road kill.

    I agree. I’m reminded of when the kitties and doggies were showing up half eaten the first time local drought, growing coyote populations, and suburban sprawl met up in California. The first assumption there was black magic and voodoo, but it’s the same idea.

  7. #7 jdac
    July 16, 2009

    I recall being under suspicion of something like that Greg. That was before I un-got religion and was finally saved.

    Apparently hanging out with the gay-pagan-artist crowd gets you the wrong kind of attention.

  8. #8 pjC
    July 17, 2009

    As a sea kayaker, I’ve often camped on beaches with penguin burrows. Their squawking in the night does not make for a good night’s sleep…

  9. #9 emre
    July 16, 2010

    i hate penguin killers they are doing the same thing every year killing tons of innocent penguins i hate them they have to DIE !!!

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