Ta­roona fires up over pets

Com­mu­nity group fights plan to make area an off-leash zone

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - ANNE MATHER

A NEW off-leash dog walk­ing area on Ta­roona Beach has raised the hack­les of some res­i­dents who be­lieve the ban on pets should re­main in place. They say the change poses a risk to the el­derly and chil­dren.

A COM­MU­NITY is fight­ing to keep an idyl­lic Ho­bart beach free of dogs, to pro­tect wa­ter qual­ity and safety for swim­mers.

Ta­roona Beach’s sta­tus as a dog-free zone is set to be over­turned, with a sec­tion east of the boat ramp to be­come an off-leash dog zone.

But com­mu­nity group Safe Beaches Ta­roona wants to keep the beach free of dogs to pro­tect threat­ened species, chil­dren and the el­derly.

It is also con­cerned dog drop­pings will jeop­ar­dise wa­ter qual­ity across the beach, which is pop­u­lar among swim­mers and snorkellers.

Ta­roona Beach has been a tra­di­tional no-go zone for dogs, but a King­bor­ough Coun­cil meet­ing in Septem­ber sup­ported an amend­ment to dog laws to cre­ate a new of­fleash dog area east of the boat ramp.

Ta­roona res­i­dent Nel Smit, a mem­ber of Safe Beaches Ta­roona, said the nar­row beach was ad­ja­cent to a play­ground, fit­ness area and na­ture trail.

“We want Ta­roona fam­i­lies to be able to con­tinue to en­joy Ta­roona Beach, which is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by the el­derly, dis­abled, par­ents with prams, tod­dlers and where peo­ple come to­gether, for pub­lic recre­ation in a safe re­laxed en­vi­ron­ment,” she said.

She said coun­cil had of­fered no pro­tec­tion to young fam­i­lies us­ing the play­ground or cook­ing at the nearby bar­be­cue area.

Ta­roona res­i­dent Mal­colm Mars, an­other mem­ber of the group, said he was con­cerned about threat­ened species that lived in bush next to the beach.

“As a long-stand­ing Ta­roona res­i­dent, I think we should ap­pre­ci­ate how lucky we are to have such amaz­ing bird and wildlife around the Ta­roona fore­shore for all of us to en­joy safely and in peace,” he said.

An­other group mem­ber, Ho­bart GP Juliet Lavers, said the area pro­vided the only safe ac­cess for the el­derly and young fam­i­lies to swim at Ta­roona Beach.

Dr Lavers said dogs also posed a health risk, es­pe­cially through fae­ces left in the wa­ter.

“Most dog own­ers are re­spon­si­ble and clean up af­ter their dogs, but some don’t and it only takes a few to pol­lute an area.”

The changes to Ta­roona Beach fol­low a new dog pol­icy en­dorsed at a meet­ing of King­bor­ough Coun­cil last month, when Coun­cil­lor Dean Win­ter moved an amend­ment to cre­ate an ad­di­tional off-leash dog area at the east­ern end of Ta- roona Beach. King­bor­ough gen­eral man­ager Gary Arnold said the coun­cil was now ad­ver­tis­ing its in­tent to en­act the new dog zones in ac­cor­dance with the pro­vi­sions of the Dog Con­trol Act, and sub­mis­sions about the changes could be sent to the coun­cil by Novem­ber 2.

“The new coun­cil will con­sider the sub­mis­sion at a fu­ture meet­ing and the fi­nal list of de­clared ar­eas will then be con­firmed and pub­licly ad­ver­tised,” Mr Arnold said.

The dog man­age­ment pol­icy would come into ef­fect once the process was com­plete, he said.

Cr Win­ter, who is run­ning for mayor, said bal­ance on the is­sue was im­por­tant.

“I don’t think it is bal­anced or rea­son­able to ban dogs from ev­ery beach in Ta­roona, as was pro­posed by one lo­cal group,” Cr Win­ter said.

“The new off-lead area is only a very small por­tion of Ta­roona’s beaches and strikes the right bal­ance in al­low­ing the com­mu­nity to en­joy the coast­line with or with­out dogs.”

King­bor­ough Dog Walk­ing As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Ge­or­gia Clark said the pro­posed of­fleash dog area was only a third of Ta­roona Beach.

“There are five beaches in Ta­roona and up un­til now none of them have been of­flead for dogs,” she said.

But about 40 per cent of house­holds in King­bor­ough have at least one dog, she said.

“Just a third of one beach in Ta­roona is a fair out­come.”

Der­went Es­tu­ary Pro­gram chief ex­ec­u­tive Ur­sula Tay­lor said dog fae­ces could con­tam­i­nate wa­ter­ways, but dogs were only one part of a com­plex is­sue.

“We cer­tainly en­cour­age dog walk­ers to be re­spon­si­ble for clean­ing up af­ter their pet, that’s a small thing an in­di­vid­ual can do.’’

Pic­ture: SAM ROSEWARNE

BAT­TLE: Mal­colm Mars, left, and Nel Smit are up­set at new dog-walk­ing ar­eas on Ta­roona Beach.

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