Victor Harbor park rangers are calling for help from the public after a penguin burrow in Granite Island Recreation Park was interfered with on Friday night and a penguin chick has gone missing.
Paul Unsworth, Ranger in Charge for the Fleurieu and Willunga Basin district of Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, said he was alerted on Saturday that one of the island’s active burrows had been vandalised.
As a result, the parent birds have abandoned their nest and left one chick to fend for itself, while another chick has gone missing.
“Granite Island’s penguin population has struggled in recent years but this past breeding season has been the best recorded for some time,” Mr Unsworth said.
“The population of 16 adult penguins has successfully raised 15 fledgling chicks, potentially bringing the island’s population to 31. It’s a great result and a real reason to be hopeful for the future of Granite Island’s penguins.
“An attack like this on a burrow after such a good year for breeding is just beyond comprehension.”
Mr Unsworth said the abandoned chick is being cared for by animal welfare professionals, while the fate of the missing chick is unknown at this stage.
“The chick may have been taken by the vandal or it may have wandered off. If someone is keeping it at home, they need to be aware that without the care of its parents, it won’t survive for long.”
He said that under the National Parks and Wildlife Act penalties for interfering with an active burrow, or taking a chick, include a prison term of up to six months and a fine up to $2500.
“We would be very glad to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious on the night or knows where the chick might be.”
He encouraged anyone with information to phone Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges district office on 8552 0300.