Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dogs are a penguin's best friend

Dogs are a penguin's best friend

Gus and Katie
Keen noses ... Gus (at front) and Katie / Pic: Ross Schultz Source: The Daily Telegraph

 GUS and Katie's keen noses and energy are a vital weapon in the battle to protect Sydney's endangered colony of little penguins. The springer spaniels' abilities have been put to use this week to sniff out foxholes at North Head as the penguins prepare to breed on nearby shores around Manly."Breeding season starts next month and we want to find the foxes and bait them," Department of Environment and Climate Change threatened species officer Kylie McClelland said.Attacks by foxes and dogs left at least 10
"When they were puppies we introduced Gus and Katie to fox fur, dummy foxes, their urine and droppings
and road kill so they know what to look for," their trainer Steve Austin said.

"But one of their biggest assets is also their energy - they just want to get out there and work."
There are just 66 known breeding pairs of penguins at Manly, although more nest in unknown nearby locations.
Despite fears the fox and dog attacks would seriously deplete the breeding colony, it appears the penguins overcame their setback, with an investigation of last year's breeding season finding an increase in the number of breeding pairs in the colony.
There were 96 active nests and 118 successfully fledged chicks, indicating a particularly good breeding season.


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