Over a Dozen Penguins Found Dead in Suspected Dog Attack

More than a dozen penguins have been found dead on an Australian beach after a suspected dog attack.

The incident occurred on West Beach in Burnie—a port city located on the northwest coast of the island state of Tasmania—Friday morning local time, Australian outlet The Advocate reported.

Anthony Hall, a resident of a nearby locality, said he was running along the boardwalk of the beach at around 5:15 a.m. when he saw a large dog standing over a dead penguin.

Hall said the dog looked like a German shepherd cross, estimating it to weigh around 66 pounds. He said the dog had black-colored fur on top and dark-tan fur below.

"It was down in front of the penguins just up from the stairs," the man said. "I kept coming along the boardwalk towards it. But once you got about 20, 30 meters [65, 98 feet] away it would just take off."

After spotting the first dead penguin, Hall noticed that were several more carcasses strewn across the beach, which is supposed to be dog free. In total, 17 dead penguins were found on the beach. All of them were "little penguins," the smallest species of penguin, which is found on the coastlines of Australia and New Zealand.

Officials from the Tasmanian Department of Natural Resources and Environment collected the dead birds from the beach and said the incident was being investigated.

"An investigation will be conducted to ascertain the possible cause of death. Carcasses have been collected to determine cause of death," the department said in a statement.

Kathy Grieveson, president of local charity Penguin Rehab and Release, said further deaths would likely follow, given that all the birds killed were adults and it is currently the middle of the breeding season.

"The death of one parent can mean the death of the whole family; if the other parent isn't able to do the hunting," she told the Advocate. "It's not just the immediate birds that are impacted."