The operators who run penguin tours at Low Head say greater signage, permanent cameras, education for dog owners and closing the conservation area from dusk to dawn are among measures that could be considered to prevent further dog attacks.
Another 14 little penguins were found dead near the Low Head Lighthouse last weekend, with at least 84 deaths in the area since June - all with evidence of dog attacks.
Shirley Lincoln, who runs Low Head Penguin Tours, said it was not acceptable and a change in attitude was needed.
"From a personal point of view the current issues are very distressing and unfortunately we tend to allow ourselves to accept that these types of incidents are a fact of life," she said.
"We know this is not acceptable but whether it is ignorance or people not giving a damn it becomes increasingly difficult to do otherwise."
The extent of the impact on penguin numbers was difficult to determine. Penguins tend to have two chicks per clutch, and up to three clutches per breeding season.
The number of penguins in the Low Head colony is estimated to be between 3000 and 5000, the tour operators say, but no recent definitive study has been carried out.
The colony survived the Iron Baron Oil Spill of 1995 with the support of the department, volunteers and BHP.
The tour operators have been working with Parks and Wildlife and the George Town Council on a number of measures.
Ms Lincoln said the majority of dog owners were responsible, but it only took one moment for another dog attack to occur.
"Owners need to realise that even if their dog is on a lead it leaves it’s scent - this both scares the penguin and causes other unleashed dogs to investigate," she said.
They made several suggestions to improve safety for penguins, including:
- More or larger signage for the conservation area to remind people to stay on designated tracks
- More permanent cameras
- Greater education for dog owners
- More reporting of animals in the area
- Closing the conservation area from dusk to dawn
- Regular patrols by Parks and Wildlife, George Town Council, Low Head Penguin Tours and volunteers
Plans for a penguin public meeting in Low Head
A number of groups in Low Head are finalising plans for a public meeting to discuss penguin safety similar to a meeting in Bicheno in January which was attended by Parks and Wildlife staff, community groups and researchers.
The meeting will likely be in two weeks' time.
Low Head Progress and Heritage Association treasurer Steve Gordon said the penguins were a cherished part of the community and more needed to be done to protect them.
"Obviously the community is very upset this has happened for a third time without a lot of action being taken," he said.
"We're in the process of holding a public meeting in our community hall to discuss what actions we as a community can do to lessen the likelihood of this happening again."
A spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment said they had installed more cameras and conducted more patrols of Low Head after the incidents.
"Responsible dog ownership by all dog owners is critical to preventing further incidents," the spokesperson said.
'Impossible' to close off area without population numbers
BirdLife Tasmania convenor and UTAS school of zoology researcher Eric Woehler says it is impossible for authorities to put a case for closing off areas to the public because there is no way of knowing how many little penguins live in Tasmania.
Tasmania is believed to be home to half of the world's population of little penguins, which are found from Perth to Sydney across the Great Australian Bight.
At a Senate Inquiry hearing in Hobart last month, Dr Woehler said the data relied upon was 30 or 40 years old.
"We have no idea what the current population size of little penguins are in Tasmania," he said.
"So makes it impossible for councils, for Parks and Wildlife Service or for DPIPWE - anyone who has any responsibility for land management or coastal protection - to be able to argue a case for closing off an area or protecting an area because we have no idea what the biological values are in terms of a penguin colony in a particular area."
The inquiry also heard that there was a "growing concern" that they could become listed as threatened. Chicks die when their parents are killed.
Dr Woehler said the broader impact of a dog attack was also unknown.
"The issue is that it will take a long time for those birds to be replaced, and, in the meantime, we'll get another dog attack or another fire will go through or something else," he said.