Hard line urged on dog ban
By Chris Morris on Wed, 8 Oct 2008
Cr Dave Cull took the tough stance yesterday, angered a group of youths had been caught walking their dog into a yellow-eyed penguin nesting area at Okia reserve, on Otago Peninsula, two weeks ago.
The youths had ignored up to four signs advising dogs were banned from the reserve, which was home to 17 yellow-eyed penguin breeding pairs last year.
Speaking at yesterday's community development committee meeting in Dunedin, Cr Cull said he supported having new signs at some city beaches that explained why dogs were banned.
Dog owners should also be warned of the consequences of breaching the bans, including that their pets could be "shot on sight without warning", he said.
"You would only have to shoot one."
Contacted by the Otago Daily Times after the meeting, he said he was "reasonably serious" about the suggestion.
"We have got a situation where, potentially, through not caring about where their dogs are, people could be responsible for wiping out protected wildlife.
"It's what's more important - some idiot's dog or the penguins?"
Cr Fliss Butcher first raised concerns about penguins' safety yesterday, and urged the public to stick to the rules: "The last thing [penguins] want is some great big thundering dog chasing them out."
Cr Michael Guest - a former lawyer and district court judge - told yesterday's meeting he believed dogs could legally be shot if they were threatening protected wildlife, much the same as a farmer could shoot a dog threatening livestock.
Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust field manager David McFarlane said he supported greater enforcement action, but questioned whether a shoot-on-sight policy was appropriate.
It might be suitable for farmers or animal control officers, but: "To be honest, I think we would get into a lot of trouble," he said.
The incident at Okia reserve occurred during the breeding season when penguins were spending more time on land, he said.
"It's a no-dog area, full stop. We don't want any dogs going in there, on a leash or not."
However, fatal dog attacks on yellow-eyed penguins were relatively rare, with the last incident, in which six penguins were killed, occurring in the late 1990s at Katiki beach, south of Moeraki, Department of Conservation biodiversity assets programme manager David Agnew said.
Program courtesy of Otago Daily Times @