Park dog ban ‘ignores ferals’

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A BLAIRGOWRIE resident upset the coming ban on dogs in Mornington Peninsula National Parks claims that Parks Victoria is ignoring the “major problems” of foxes, cats and weeds.

Dogs will be banned from the national park from November in a bid to protect the nesting areas of the threatened hooded plover.

Peter Hill, a Blairgowrie resident of more than 30 years, says Blairgowrie’s rocky beach is not a nesting ground for the sand-dwelling birds and accuses Parks Victoria of focusing on dogs because they are an “easy target”.

“Blairgowrie is a rocky beach and we don’t have any hooded plovers, so why ban dogs here; there should be an exemption,” he said.

“I take my dogs to the beach every morning and we always see foxes and feral cats in the bushland or on the beach; it’s not the dogs that are the problem, but they are an easy target.”

Dogs are blamed for destroying hooded plover habitat and chicks, with Birdlife Australia data showing that 70 per cent of hooded plover chicks were successfully fledged in areas where dogs are prohibited.

The park covers  42 kilometres along the coast from London Bridge and Bushrangers Bay, plus a stretch from Stockyard Creek to Flinders, and also an area north of Cape Schanck called Greens Bush.

A spokesman for Parks Victoria rejected any suggestion of an exemption for beaches at Blairgowrie.

“There are over 32 fauna species of significance in addition to the hooded plover that will directly benefit from banning dogs in the Mornington Peninsula National Park from this November,” he said.

“Without the presence of domestic dogs in the park, Parks Victoria will be able to broaden the current pest fox and cat programs to increase their impact and give endangered species such as the Hooded Plover their best chance of survival.”

Birdlife Australia could not be contacted for comment.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 7 June 2016

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