The recent decision to change the dog access rules for Mornington Peninsula
(Hooded Plover habitat) has been reported in today's Age. It's interesting that
20% of dog owners wanted a total ban. See
An adjacent article about dogs in general has the comment:
‘‘ In Australia, dog owners are marginalised, and because they have nowhere
else to go, they end up on the fringes of society, which are the places that
are ecologically sensitive,’’ she says.
Lawless dog owners have spoilt it for the broader canine community, with
sections of the Mornington Peninsula National Park – including several popular
summertime beaches – now subject to a total ban on dogs.
Previously, dogs on leashes were allowed in the park from sunrise to 9am, but
Parks Victoria’s rangers found the restrictions were routinely ignored, with
dogs found off their leashes at all hours, endangering species-protection
When policing and $211 fines failed to remedy the situation, an extensive
public consultation process ensued.
‘‘ We got passionate responses from conservationists and dog walkers,’’ Parks
Victoria district manager Libby Jude said.
‘‘ The majority of people who walk their dogs have a genuine interest in
national parks. There is a small percentage at the pointy end that can be
difficult to deal with.’’
Ms Jude said several groups of passionate dog owners submitted petitions and
lobbied through the review process. ‘‘ What they have done is form groups I can
work with in the future ... to manage appropriate behaviour.’’
The results of the review showed a wildly polarised dog community: one in four
owners wanted fewer restrictions – that is, to let their dogs run free – while
nearly one in five wanted a total ban on dogs in the national park. Nearly half
(45 per cent) wanted the restrictions to remain unchanged.
Eight out of 10 non-dog owners wanted a total ban.
The new rules mean dogs will have limited access to 14 kilometres of the
national park’s coastline, mainly around built-up areas.
The new restrictions will protect key threatened species habitat areas from
threats posed by dogs. The park’s hooded plover breeding population is one of
the highest in Victoria but has a consistently low comparable breeding success
to other parts of the state.
Despite a monitoring program during breeding season, hooded plovers – which
nest in a scrape on the ground and whose chicks must feed themselves from birth
– suffer high rates of nest failure, much of it attributed to dogs off the
Observers have previously told Fairfax Media that some dog owners have refused
to put their dogs back on leads when confronted. The observers also claimed to
have been threatened, abused and, in a couple of cases, physically assaulted.
The hooded plover (pictured below) is a threatened species and monitoring of
breeding outcomes in the park over many years has shown that where dogs are
banned, breeding success is significantly improved.
The new restrictions will come into force on September 1.
The community consultation report is available at
Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media
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