Proposed changes to Break O’Day Council’s dog policy have left the community conflicted.
At the council meeting in February, natural resource management facilitator Polly Buchhorn said going by the amount of submissions on the proposed changes, it was evident people were very passionate about the issue.
Though many residents were pleased with the idea of allowing their furry friends more spaces to play off-lead, some residents were concerned with the effect it may have on the municipality’s animal and birdlife.
General manager John Brown said some people were blaming dogs for bird deaths in the area, with reports coming forward of dead penguins found in the municipality.
“People are picking [dead birds] up and associating them with dogs,” Mr Brown said. “Which is often incorrect.”
Mr Buchhorn said the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and Parks and Wildlife services were examining penguins which had been brought in and they were “generally not being attacked by dogs”.
Mayor Mick Tucker said not everything found dead on a beach was the result of a dog attack, and that feral cats were more of a danger to birdlife than dogs.
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“Feral cats kill a lot of our birdlife,” he said. “We do need to look at this as a whole … we also need to mention feral cats.”
DPIPWE said cats have been shown to prey on at least 123 types of bird in Australia.
Councillor Barry LeFevre said this was an issue the council would “have to be very strong on eventually”.
“We have dog lovers, bird lovers, and people who just want to go to the beach,” he said.
“We’re never going to please everyone.”
The council deferred a decision on the policy until Parks and Wildlife completed a Reserve Activity Assessment of the areas covered.
From there, it would consider the outcomes and determine whether the proposed changes would need further public consultation.
The council would advise those who previously made a submission, and provide them with an analysis of submissions.