Penguin killing dogs on notice

Dead penguins have been found at Waubs Bay beach in Bicheno.

TOUGHER penalties for owners of dogs that attack wildlife such as Little Penguins are unlikely to be in place before summer.

It is estimated as many as 19 Little Penguins have been killed at Bicheno this year and 30 last year.

Statewide 200 penguins have been killed in six attacks this year.

In September this year, the Tasmanian Government released proposed changes to the Dog Control Act 2000 for public comment.

Changes included a new offence for instances where a dog injures or kills any sensitive wildlife and increased fines of $5,040 for the owner of a killer dog.

In addition, the penalty for taking a dog into a prohibited area containing sensitive habitat for native wildlife would be increased to $3,360.

Local Government Minister Mark Shelton said this approach would support local councils wanting to prohibit the entry of dogs into ecologically significant areas, such as Little Penguin colonies.

Convenor of BirdLife Tasmania Dr Eric Woehler said dog owners were living in a state of denial.

“What do we need to do to ensure dogs are kept under control at night, particularly in coastal areas?

“What was once an unfortunate and relatively infrequent event around Tasmania is now a regular occurrence with catastrophic consequences for Tasmanian penguins” Dr Woehler said.

“Until recently, there were occasional dog attacks, perhaps just one a year or less frequent.

“Now 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.

“Clearly the increase in penalties proposed by the State Government do not appear to encourage dog owners to control their pets at night.

The responsibility lies with dog owners. ‘’

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