FENCING could provide a non-lethal way of keeping dogs out of little penguin colonies.In 2012 Kingborough Council erected a head-high dog-proof fence around a little penguin colony at Boronia after 25 birds were killed in an attack by two dogs.
The discovery of 14 slaughtered penguins in a reserve at Stanley last weekend prompted Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson to call for snipers to be hired to shoot dogs found to be preying on penguin colonies. His radical suggestion was supported by a bird expert but dismissed by the Parks and Wildlife Service.
Kingborough Mayor Steve Wass yesterday said he had been saddened to hear of the deaths of the little penguins.
“Kingborough had a similar tragic event occur four years ago and the dog owners were distraught that their pets had escaped and took the lives of 25 little penguins,” Cr Wass said.
“Council installed a dog-proof fence in the area of the most significant little penguin colony following the tragic attack. However, we need to work together as a community to prevent any further possibility of attacks in vulnerable areas.”
The Kingborough municipality has the largest mainland colony in the Derwent estuary and it was highly vulnerable to attack by wandering cats and dogs, Cr Wass said.
The council works with the Derwent Estuary Program, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, the University of Tasmania and Birdlife Tasmania to monitor and protect penguins and raise awareness among dog owners.
“The DEP encourages the community to observe the no-access areas for dogs where signposted and to display responsible pet ownership, as even the disturbance of habitats can be a vital key to the survival of penguins and other wildlife,” Cr Wass said.
“Numbers of little penguins have continued to decline, so any loss to life or their habitat has a significant impact on the population.”
Community and conservation groups, governments and businesses were working together to protect the breeding colonies.
See the Saturday Mercury for an in-depth look at how we can help save our penguins.