Big fines for dog at­tacks

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - CHANEL KINNIBURGH

THE own­ers of dogs which at­tack sen­si­tive wildlife will be fined up to $5040 as part of a new of­fence to be in­tro­duced in Tas­ma­nia. The new of­fence cov­ers in­stances where a dog in­jures or kills any sen­si­tive wildlife in a spec­i­fied area. Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Mark Shel­ton said it was a cru­cial step to­wards pro­tect­ing lit­tle pen­guin rook­eries ahead of the breed­ing sea­son.

THE own­ers of dogs which at­tack sen­si­tive wildlife will be fined up to $5040 as part of a new of­fence to be in­tro­duced in Tas­ma­nia.

The Dog Con­trol Amend­ment Bill 2019 passed through the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil on Thurs­day.

The new of­fence cov­ers in­stances where a dog in­jures or kills any sen­si­tive wildlife in a spec­i­fied area. Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Mark Shel­ton said it was a cru­cial step to­wards pro­tect­ing Lit­tle Pen­guin rook­eries ahead of the peak sum­mer breed­ing sea­son.

“The amend­ments that have now passed through par­lia­ment specif­i­cally tar­get ir­re­spon­si­ble dog own­ers and pro­vide for stronger penal­ties that send a clear mes­sage: if your dog in­jures or kills sen­si­tive wildlife like Lit­tle Pen­guins, then there will be se­ri­ous con­se­quences,” he said.

“A per­son found guilty of the new of­fence could be fined up to $5040, li­able for a range of costs in­curred and may have their dog de­stroyed.”

The Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries, Parks, Wa­ter and En­vi­ron­ment will spec­ify the species and ar­eas to which the of­fence ap­plies.

Un­der the changes, the penalty for tak­ing a dog into a pro­hib­ited area con­tain­ing sen­si­tive habi­tat for na­tive wildlife will in­crease from $1680 to $3360.

The process of DNA col­lec­tion will also be stream­lined so a po­lice of­fi­cer or ranger can col­lect a sam­ple from a dog with­out seek­ing the prior ap­proval of the rel­e­vant coun­cil’s gen­eral man­ager.

BirdLife Tas­ma­nia con­venor Eric Woehler said the amend­ments would go a long to­wards pro­tect­ing and con­serv­ing the state’s “re­mark­ably di­verse wealth of wildlife”.

“Our wildlife is one of the rea­sons so many na­tional and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors come to Tas­ma­nia,” he said.

“We know that Tas­ma­nia is a refuge to so many species of birds, mam­mals and other wildlife.

“What we’re do­ing now is recog­nis­ing that they have not just en­vi­ron­men­tal value, but eco­nomic value in terms of their role as tourism draw­cards.”

Dr Woehler, who has been map­ping and sur­vey­ing pen­guins for 40 years, said it could take some colonies decades to re­cover from a sig­nif­i­cant dog at­tack.

“Ev­ery dog is a threat to wildlife. Dog own­ers in par­tic­u­lar, but not ex­clu­sively, need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their pets,” he said.

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