Wildlife officials in the southern Australia on Wednesday announced an investigation into the mass death of 58 penguins they believe were killed in a dog attack.
The carcases of the fairy penguins—the world’s smallest penguin species—were found strewn across a beach in Tasmania, a island-state off the mainland.
“We would like to remind dog owners of the need to take responsibility for their animals at all times as dogs have the capacity to do a lot of damage to penguin colonies in a short period of time,” Tasmania’s department of parks, water and environment said in a statement.
The latest grisly find comes just months after a dozen birds were found dead on a nearby beach, they too are believed to have been killed in a dog attack.
“All reports of alleged unlawful harming of wildlife are regarded extremely seriously by the department,” the government department said.
Fairy penguins—who grow to around just over a foot (30 centimetres) and can live for up to 24 years—are only found in southern Australia and New Zealand, with Tasmania supporting around half of the global population.
Fairy penguin colonies remain under threat from increasing urbanisation, traffic and domestic animals.