FOUR more little penguins were found dead on the rocks at Waubs Bay in Bicheno on Thursday morning with signs of a dog attack, the day after a public meeting called for more support to ensure their protection.
A shack owner found the bodies of the penguins during a morning walk.
It comes two months after at least 45 penguins were killed by a dog at the same location. An initial 30 were found, and then 15 were discovered afterwards presumed to be from the same attack.
Earth Ocean Network spokesperson Lucy Landon-Lane said it was “deplorable” that people were still allowing their dogs off-leash in the area.
“This further highlights the need for urgent action to protect our penguins from dog attack,” she said.
“Unfortunately some dog owners will not take responsibility for their dogs and continue to allow them to roam unchecked.
“As discussed yesterday at the meeting, the penalty for vagrant dogs is pitifully low ($250), and the fact that there is no authorised dog catcher in Bicheno means that there is no deterrence and the message is not getting across to some dog owners.”
About 70 people attended a public meeting in Bicheno on Wednesday where the Environment Department stated it was developing a Penguin Advisory Group to better co-ordinate their protection.
Little penguin numbers in Tasmania are largely unknown, but they are spread throughout the coast. They can also be found as far north as Perth in Western Australia, and Sydney, where snipers were deployed in 2009 to protect a colony that was repeatedly attacked.
Ms Landon-Lane said more needed to be done to protect the penguins in Tasmania.
“The public meeting has fired up the community and the authorities to get serious about protecting these vulnerable birds because without adequate protection from dogs, cats and human intervention, there is a risk that little penguins may become extinct on mainland Tasmania,” she said.
At the public meeting, adjunct researcher at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies Dr Eric Woehler said little penguin behaviour in Tasmania had changed due to the warming ocean.
He said their previously set routine of breeding, nesting and moulting had changed since he started researching marine animals 40 years ago. Their behaviour now more closely resembles penguins in the warmer climate of the mainland.