January 7th 2011
Vale koala 049
Following a sad and grizzly discovery yesterday morning Magnetic Times feels compelled to ask the question, if you love Magnetic Island (or Australia for that matter) why let your dog roam outside your property or walk it off-leash?
The discovery was made beside the West point road at the Magnetic Island Country Club. Lying a few metres from the road was a dead male koala. On investigation it was clear, from the torn scraps of fur and the many puncture marks that this koala, tagged no. 049 as part of Dr Andrew Krockenbergers’ study (read here) and which had been carefully relocated by Island rangers in December from a tree to be lopped in Picnic Bay, had been attacked and killed by a roaming, off-leash dog.
Ranger in Charge Patrick Centurino
inspects the body of koala 049
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Magnetic Island Ranger in Charge, Patrick Centurino was clearly frustrated by the discovery. The koala appeared to be in perfectly good health at the time and was simply the victim of human carelessness.
Patrick told Magnetic Times, “Any given day on Magnetic Island, it is possible to observe at least one dog roaming freely around the streets.”
To prove his point Patrick was later in Nelly Bay where he photographed an off-leash dog (below) beside the Habitat Reserve.
Off-leash dog Nelly Bay
“(The attack) highlights once again the importance of responsible pet ownership especially when living close to a natural environment,” said Patrick.
“The last koala which had been positively identified as having been killed by a dog was in August 2005, (read here) a long time ago some may say, but of course these are only the ones we find. How many more are injured but have enough strength to go and hide to die that we don’t know about?
Magnetic Times today asked Townsville City Council how many fines have been issued in the last year for dogs being off-leash. The answer was “none”. Magnetic Times is seeking further information at present from Cr Trevor Roberts regarding the state of animal management enforcement practices on Magnetic and will report accordingly.
Attitudes by dog owners are however at the core of the problem. While the dog that may never cause harm for humans or wildlife is seen walking off-leash with the owner firmly believing they could not be a danger, the impact of one person walking an off-leash dog simply encourages other dog owners including those with potentially dangerous dogs to do likewise.
Tooth puncture marks were visible in a
number of locations across koala 049's body
For all the information about managing your dog according to local laws (Click here)
Other dogs with friendly personalities can undergo astonishing switches in personality when a wallaby or koala appears. Their natural urge to chase and kill takes over. The bottom line for ethical dog ownership must surely sit with owners setting the right example.
Patrick Centurino told Magnetic Times: “Pet owners have to start believing that their domestic animal may hurt wildlife and ensure that they never get a chance to do so. Everything else will flow naturally from that belief.
"Responsible pet ownership is neither new nor difficult. Pet owners know what to do. If you really don’t please contact me on 4778 5378."
Patrick Centurino provided information based on scientific research which shows that domestic dogs, particularly large breeds, are one of the key threats to koalas in urban environments.
Dogs represent the third most significant threat to koala populations, after the human impacts of habitat clearing and road trauma.
As koala habitat is lost, particularly to suburban development, the koala’s home range is becoming our backyards where domestic dogs are also found.
Scientific data shows medium and larger dogs pose a greater threat to wild koala populations:
* 96 percent of attacks on koalas were by dogs over 10kg (40 percent were by medium dogs between 11.25kg; 56 percent of attacks were by large dogs over 25kg)
* Medium to large-sized dogs are 20 times more likely than small dogs to attack a koala
* 80 percent of the koalas attacked by dogs die from their injuries or have to be humanely euthanased (Moggill Koala Hospital statistics)
* 4 percent of attacks on koalas were by small dogs weighing less than 10kg
* Koalas have more chance of surviving an attack if the dog is small (Source: QPWS research into dog mortality in southeast Queensland).
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