Dogs Protect Penguins

In what is believed to be a world first, a Maremma Guardian dog has been successfully used to protect Little Penguin and Shearwater colonies from fox and dog predation on Middle Island in Warrnambool.

Middle Island is part of the Thunder Point Coastal Reserve and is managed by the Warrnambool City Council (WCC) with much support from local community. The Island has a history of foxes and dogs preying upon the Little Penguin and Short-tailed Shearwaters colonies that inhabit the Island.

The Little Penguin population has been decimated from estimates of more than 600 in the year 2000 to fewer than 10 in 2005. For several years, the WCC has implemented a fox control strategy which included shooting, fumigation and trapping. While showing some minor successes, it failed to sustain the Little Penguin population. Along came the idea of ‘Oddball’, a Maremma Guardian dog who could live on Middle Island and protect the seabird colonies from predation in their critical time of breeding.

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