12 February 2011

Canine graduates ready to protect penguins

AUSTRALIA - Congratulations to Eula and Tula, the latest Maremma sheepdogs to graduate from the training programme that teaches them to protect the little penguins on Middle Island from stray dogs and foxes.

The two-year-old sheepdogs will now spend up to four nights on the island, which is off the coast of Warrnambool, Victoria, without a handler.

The penguins' breeding season is from July to March so right now the sheepdogs' presence on the island is vital;  their scent deters foxes and other dogs.

Middle Island's Maremma patrol programme has been running since 2005, when there were only 10 penguins on the island. Now there are 180.

Coastcare facilitator Marty Gent told the Herald Sun "they've saved the colony".

Guarding animals is in the Maremmas' blood. In Italy, where they originate from, the dogs were used to protect sheep and goats from wolves and bears. 

Hands off my new penguin mate, says sheepdog Eudy by Kate Jones, 28 January 2011, Herald Sun

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