Saturday, August 8, 2009

Penguin deaths stopped but sharp shooters remain

Penguin deaths stopped but sharp shooters remain
July 28, 2009

Snipers will continue to protect Sydney's rare penguins from predators despite no deaths being recorded in the past fortnight.

Foxes or dogs have mauled 11 of the endangered birds as they totter up the beach in Manly and North Head.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service got so worried the area's population of 60 breeding pairs was going to be decimated earlier this month they stationed snipers in the North Head grass to pick off any marauders.
Snipers to protect fairy penguins

Two marksmen have been employed to protect Sydney's fairy penguin colony after nine were killed in ten days.

The Department of Environment and Climate Change said that, although no more deaths have been recorded recently, the snipers would remain firmly in place.

"The good news is since we set up our intensive fox control program, coupled with widespread community appeal to keep dogs under control, we have not had any more penguins killed," a department spokeswoman said.

"The National Parks and Wildlife Service is continuing with measures which include comprehensive baiting and rotational shooters.

"Foxes are very sensitive to scent so the operation can only be successful if the shooters are only active for a few nights at any time.

"A number of baits have been taken over the last week although its possible we'll only know that we have been successful when we continue to have no further penguin mortality or no further baits taken."

DNA tests taken from the bodies of dead penguins found in the area are due to be available tomorrow.

It should finally establish whether dogs or foxes are responsible.

The colony of little penguins is said to be the only one on the NSW mainland.

There used to be hundreds of the birds on the north shore but attacks and urban development have dramatically reduced their numbers.

Angelika Triechler, who, with 30 volunteers from Manly Environment Centre, patrol Manly and North Head, said she had also not found any more dead penguins in the past fortnight.


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