Two separate dog-related penguin massacres has resulted in a penguin welfare group calling for more action from the state government and the community in stopping the attacks.
On Tuesday, September 24, 14 penguins were found dead near Waubs Esplanade. On Saturday, September 28, five more penguins were discovered dead at the Bicheno foreshore. Both attacks are believed to have been committed by dogs. Friends of Bicheno Penguins chairperson Lyn Hatton said the spate of attacks are incredibly disturbing and Tasmania needs action now to prevent further attacks.
"I believe we need to be proactive, it is good to detect dogs after an attack but it would be better to prevent it at the same time," she said.
"Maybe we need a dog census to look at every dog in the township and work with owners to make sure they've got suitable fencing so they can't get out at night."
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Birdlife Tasmania convenor Dr Eric Woehler said dog attacks were once a relatively infrequent event that has now become a regular occurrence with catastrophic consequences.
"We have seen more than 200 little penguins killed in six attacks just this year. It is quite likely that there have been more that have not been reported or discovered," he said.
Both the state government and Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council are looking at ways to deter dog attacks, including installing cameras and enacting fines of up to $5040 for owners of dogs who have attacked penguins.
Ms Hatton said "those laws don't go far enough".
"It's a knee-jerk reaction, let's look big picture, can we make sure that every dog is micro chipped?" she said.
"The state government needs to do more than just fining people after the fact. Yes, we need bigger fines, but we need to put in place ways of preventing penguins being attacked."
Ms Hatton suggested some form of dog alert system be installed that detected chipped dogs and notified owners if they wander into rookeries.
"Our coastline's too big to put cameras or volunteer rangers in every spot, we just don't have the people power to do that - let's use technology to do it," Ms Hatton said.
More about penguin deaths in Tasmania:
- DPIPWE investigating deaths of 14 penguins found at Bicheno, near blowhole
- Bicheno dog park plan raises penguin safety fears
- Tasmanian government proposes stronger penalties for owners of wildlife-killing dogs
- Friends of the Low Head Penguin Colony aims to put a stop to local penguin deaths
- Fifty-eight penguins found dead in Tas
- DPIPWE investigating deaths of 30 little penguins near Bicheno
- Statewide Penguin Advisory Group planned as Tasmania seeks to secure little penguin future after Bicheno attack
- RSPCA backs push for cameras to protect penguins
The Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council also proposed a new fenced dog park near the penguin rookery at Waubs Esplanade.
"It [the dog park] hasn't been thought through, the place they're suggesting is inappropriate," Ms Hatton said.
"It's not going to be a great place to take dogs anyway, it's quite tiny and to get there you're going to have to go through penguin habitat areas."
Ms Hatton added another issue for penguins is that many people aren't responsible in leashing their dogs in required areas.
"This morning [Sunday] I saw four different walkers in dog-on-leash areas with their dogs not on leashes ... people need to understand why we need these by-laws," she said
"Most people really do care for their dogs and care for wildlife ... most dog owners are fabulous."