At its January meeting Council reviewed its approach to assisting responsible dog ownership, following a recent dog attack which killed Little Penguins at Burnie’s West Beach over the New Year period.
Burnie City Council Deputy Mayor Giovanna Simpson said “While Council acknowledges primary responsibility for the protection of Little Penguins rests with the State Government, which has undertaken a range of initiatives, including designating Little Penguins as sensitive wildlife and declaring areas in which they breed is protected, Council can also implement extra measures to help protect sensitive wildlife in Burnie.”
Following the little penguin dog attack, Council officers met with experts from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (DNRET) to seek their advice. Council also met with representatives from the Friends of Burnie Penguins, Business North West and the University of Tasmania (UTAS) to discuss the advice from DNRET and agree on measures to assist in the protection of Burnie’s little penguin colonies.
DNRET officers confirmed that it was a dog attack that killed the little penguins. Unfortunately such attacks are inevitable in urban environments such as here in Burnie. They advised that roaming and uncontrolled dogs are responsible for many penguin deaths in Tasmania.
Deputy Mayor Simpson said “In the Burnie municipality, the vast majority of dog owners are responsible pet owners. Unfortunately many roaming and uncontrolled dogs are unregistered, making it very hard for Council to communicate with the dogs’ owner.”
Based on advice from DNRET officers and discussions with our stakeholders, Council have begun rolling out the following measures:
A Public Awareness Campaign
Council has written to all owners of registered dogs to remind them of the dog control measures in place on Burnie’s coastline; requesting their support in identifying and reporting any roaming or uncontrolled dogs.
Council will also engage with main stream media to improve public awareness of Little Penguin habitat and sensitivities, as well as using its own communication channels to provide information to the community about responsible dog ownership as well as advice on how to report dog related incidents.
Increase Patrolling and Enforcement
Council will increase after hours patrolling (including weekends), particularly in sensitive areas to identify and deter problematic dogs.
Council is also liaising with Parks and Wildlife to obtain more information about the threat of feral cats in the penguin colony. If evidence is obtained determining that feral cats are also causing problems, Council will consider declaration of a prohibited area or cat management area under the Cat Management Act 2009 to facilitate a feral cat trapping program pilot in the West Park/Beach area.
Signage and fencing
Due to a range of physical constraints, a total fencing solution is not practical or feasible in Burnie, however remediation work of the existing penguin fence on West Beach as a containment measure for penguins will be undertaken. Council will also consider further fencing protections as part of the works being undertaken by UTAS on pathways through the West Park precinct and where appropriate during Council’s construction of the coastal pathway west of Cooee.
Council will support Business North West to complete the installation of penguin cameras in the West Park area, including equipment upgrades to enable improved recording and monitoring of the area. Improved camera monitoring will not necessarily result in immediate action, as they are not monitored 24/7, but this may assist to identify any problem dogs entering the rookery. The cameras also add to the promotion of Burnie’s little penguin colonies and the Penguin Centre. If you haven’t already watched the Little Penguin Live Stream you can access the live stream from this link www.discoverburnie.net/Explore/Penguin-Viewing
DNRET officers advised that they consider current dog control signage in the Burnie area to be adequate, with the exception of Cooee Point. Their view is that additional signage is not necessary and will not be effective given that the risk comes from roaming and uncontrolled dogs. Council is now making improvements to signage on dog controls at Cooee Point and we will advise the community when this is in place.
Council is also working with UTAS to install some additional educational signage in the West Park precinct about the Penguin Centre and habitat.
What can you do to help us protect our sensitive wildlife here in Burnie?
If you see a dog at large, please use the FREE Snap Send Solve app to report it. The app lets you add a photo and records the location of your report, Council officers may not always be able to attend straight away but these reports may assist to identify problem areas or dogs and assist the focus of our animal management resources.
If you witness a dog attack or see a dog at large in a prohibited or protected area please report these incidents to by calling us on 6430 5700.
Download the FREE Snap Send Solve app www.snapsendsolve.com
Source: Burnie City Council