Mallacoota - the good, the bad and the ugly

To: "'David Adams'" <>, "'Birding-Aus'" <>
Subject: Mallacoota - the good, the bad and the ugly
From: "Alastair Smith" <>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2008 12:01:19 +1100
Of course with Parks services across the country under resourced, it is
behoven on committed conservation minded groups and individuals to become
the major driving force in shorebird protection. The problem lies in
enforcing the 'rules' that state and local governments have obviously
supported and ratified. In this case shorebird 'warriors' can try and
persuade dog owners to be responsible and obey the signs but unless there is
a person in uniform with the ability to apply a pecuniary penalty, most dog
owners will continue to walk their dogs off leash because the dog gets more
exercise. I am sure that other birders would happily join me in being sworn
in as 'special constables' with the ability to issue fines to recalcitrant
dog owners. 

The example provided by Steve Clark on the Snowy Plover in the US has
obviously been supported by the general beach going public and education
plays a vital role. One of the people I spoke to turned and pointed to a
Silvergull and said that in her opinion shorebirds were doing well and in
some cases where the menace.  

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of David Adams
Sent: Thursday, 31 January 2008 10:20 AM
To: Birding-Aus
Subject: Mallacoota - the good, the bad and the ugly

On Jan 30, 2008 7:11 PM, Alastair Smith <> wrote:

> Now the bad and ugly. It was gratifying to see the Little Terns, enclosed
> within a roped  off area which all beach walkers appeared to respect. It
> most ungratifying to see the number of unleashed dogs on all Mallacoota
> beaches, despite signs prohibiting dogs on beaches between November and
> April. I mentioned the breeding shore birds to a couple of dogs owners on
> first expedition to the beach, only to be greeted with the equivalent of
> what?' in one case and hostility in the second. I don't know who patrols
> these sites but the Parks Victoria office only reopened today after the
> weekend (?) and I did not see a council ranger or anyone else patrolling
> breeding sites. If we are keen on allowing these birds to breed unmolested
> by dogs and people, I am surprised with the lack of enforcement. It
> to me that as dog owners cannot read signs, the only thing they would
> understand would be a total ban, backed up by sizeable fines.

Malacoota is a lovely area and very worth birding. I live in the shire
immediately to the north (Bega Valley) in NSW where we have a few
Little Tern breeding colonies. Specifically, I live very near to the
Wallaga Lake entrance where Pied Oystercatchers, Little Terns and
Hooded Plovers breed or attempt to breed every year. Well, the Pied
Oystercatchers seem to make an effrort with some success every year,
the Little Terns try many years without much success, and the Hooded
Plovers less often...alghough there was a nest this year. (I haven't
checked its status in a few weeks.)

Up here, there aren't many parks staff to monitor or enforce
dog/people/AWD violations. The shorebird recovery program staff do a
great job but are stretched very thin over a large area. They post
signs which are largely ignored. The best chance seems to be from
getting local volunteers to monitor the area and try to explain to
people what's happening. Obviously that's going to give mixed results
but it's a start. As to the local Council, forget about it. A year ago
at Christmas, our local Council tried to slip through a proposal to
seal a dirt  access road to the headland overlooking the breeding site
for no obvious benefit (Making submissions due over the Christmas
holidays is a strategy down here to avoid the public completing
submissions.) I checked with parks and the shorebird recover program
coordinator the day before submissions were due. No one had been
consulted or informed. The proposal said that the area had "no
significant fauna" and the flora/fauna were "so degraded" as to be of
no concern. There are permanent signs with photographs and
illustrations explaining about the rare breeding shorebirds that
Council somehow forgot to mention. They also "forgot" that apart from
everything else, a dead Ground Parrot was recovered from heathland
just to the north of the lake's entrance. The specimen was lodged in
the Forest department's collection in Bateman's Bay and is probably
still there. The track sealing proposal didn't go forward, presumably
because it was wildly expensive and this shire hasn't got the money
for necessary projects for a variety of reasons, let alone unnecessary
projects. So, I don't know about the situation in Malacoota but I
wouldn't always expect help from local government....

 David Adams
 Wallaga Lake 2546 NSW

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