Australian Sheepdogs Assigned to Protect Penguins

What a great idea! This article comes to us from IOL.co.za in New Zealand. Australia turns to dogs to save penguins Sydney - Australia has...

Joy  |  Nov 3rd 2006


Dogs Help Out Penguin Flock

What a great idea! This article comes to us from IOL.co.za in New Zealand.

Australia turns to dogs to save penguins

Sydney – Australia has turned to the talents of the trusty sheepdog as the last line of defence for an unusually feathered flock – penguins – officials said on Tuesday.

Authorities are desperate to prevent the annihilation of a fox-ravaged colony of penguins on Middle Island, off southwest Victoria state, whose numbers have been slashed from 5 000 five years ago to 100 today.

They plan to station a bird-friendly breed of sheepdog on the island, 100 metres offshore, to ward off the predators.

“Over the past four years the population has been absolutely decimated… this is innovation borne of desperation,” Craig Whiteford from Victoria’s department of sustainability and environment said of the last-ditch attempt to save the birds.

Predators have been able to walk to the island at low tide and last year a fox was shot while swimming to it, the Australian Associated Press reported.

“If we didn’t do anything, they wouldn’t last this season,” Whiteford said, adding that past efforts to fend off foxes – including baiting the pests and fumigating their dens – had come to nothing.

The trial of a maremma sheepdog – a breed that has been used to protect free range chickens from foxes in the past – will begin on November 13.

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