Big fines for dog attacks
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.