Re: Walking the dog is bad for birdlife

To: Rex & Jan Fisher <>
Subject: Re: Walking the dog is bad for birdlife
From: Ian May <>
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2007 11:09:13 +0930
Spot on Rex

For several years we have walked the Kaurna wetlands near Adelaide with and without dogs. The daily lists and population figures are similar. In this thread, there appears to be confusion separating harmless disturbance from real harmful impacts. There is an oval near Adelaide. One day there were 600+ silver gulls resting on it. After 2 dogs with their owner walked across, less than 200 gulls returned. A decline of more than 60%. That afternoon an observer could have written that dogs caused more than a 60% decline in the local gull population.

Compare this with damage caused to a healthy breeding population of birds from bushfire management practices There are officially condoned bushfire management practices known as "spring burning" otherwise known as protective or reduction burning. Some farmers also use it to promote grasslands. Of course we need some prescriptive bushfire hazard reduction and strategic pre-winter burning may be an acceptable compromise but officially burning in spring only demonstrates how far we have really come in efforts to conserve the natural environment

In Tasmania as we speak, official spring burning is happening everywhere with seeming disregard to its impacts on breeding fauna or to it's influence on the spread of woody weeds. Last week near St Helens, the destruction of an area supporting breeding Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters and Calamnthus etc. was nearly complete. And the carbon footprint from this activity? It would rival any chain of coal powered electricity generators known to man. So lets keep some perspective about domestic dogs.


Ian May
St  Helens Tasmania
Phone (03) 6312 1123

Rex & Jan Fisher wrote:

I haven't rally followed this thread closely but wonder if we are looking at
the right variables here, eg is it simply the dog or human or their
behaviour, or the noise of their toys, the colour of their clothing etc? I
saw nearly 100 species on a walk I used to regularly do in Brisbane and the
diversity and bird behaviour at any period never seemed to change whether I
was with my dog or not. Obviously there are places such as roost or breeding
sites where it would seem obvious that minimal disturbance would be
advisable (but also taking account of the fact that the presence of
"natural" predators is probably important for ecological balance - unless of
course that balance has been thrown way out of kilter by human interference)
but we need to very careful about extrapolating from such findings.

Regards Rex
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