12 March 2011

"Intensive" program to protect Manly's penguins

AUSTRALIA - Following a devastating dog attack on Manly's little penguin colony in December last year, the NSW Department of Environment Climate Change and Water (DECCW) and Manly Council have announced a new action plan to protect the endangered birds in the upcoming breeding season.

"Manly's little penguin population is the subject of one of the most intensive threatened species programs in the country," DECCW Deputy Director and National Parks head Sally Barnes said.

The new action plan aims to reduce the chance of dog attacks - the biggest threat to birds in the area - by introducing a policy of zero tolerance for people ignoring leash-only areas at Manly Cove, including Federation Point where the December attack occurred.

The plan, which is to be in place before the beginning of the breeding season in July, also includes expanding Manly Council’s existing Wildlife Protection Area, upgrading fencing on the Federation Point boardwalk, using CCTV to monitor the Federation Point nesting area, research and tailored education campaigns to improve community education, and discussions with fisheries and maritime authorities about boating strategies that may reduce disturbance to the penguins.

"A key part of the plan is an investigation into extending declared critical habitat to Federation Point. This process is well underway, with a formal request having been made to the NSW Scientific Committee seeking their advice on the matter," Ms Barnes said.

Manly's endangered population is estimated at about 60 breeding pairs, most of whom nest within critical habitat areas in Sydney Harbour National Park. About five pairs breed either under Manly Wharf or at Federation Point.

"The population does appear to be fragile but stable, with our monitoring showing a trend upwards since 2002 and evidence the birds are looking at areas outside their core breeding habitat," Ms Barnes said.

While DECCW and the Little Penguin Recovery Team are still finalising a monitoring report for the 2010/11 breeding season, Ms Barnes said preliminary monitoring data showed the population had experienced a strong breeding success (76%) this season.

"However there were fewer breeding pairs and therefore fewer eggs and fewer fledglings, which seabird scientists suggest was due to the poor shape the birds were in when they arrived," she said.

"Our threatened species team believes this is most likely due to oceanic conditions and a lack of small fish for adult breeding birds."

Zero tolerance for dog owners next penguin breeding season, 4 March 2011, Department of Environment Climate Change and Water


  1. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence whatsoever that the attack was from a dog.

    As a self processed "armchair penguinologist" currently living in London but originally from New Zealand you should mind your own business and be fully appraised of the facts before you go sprouting off.

  2. I was going to do a follow-up post on this article following recent news reports, e.g. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/dog-walkers-fight-bans/.

    I realise from this and related articles that this is understandably a very emotive issue for Manly dog owners, particularly as there was no consultation over the ban, and that there is a strong movement to overturn the Council's ruling.

    According to an earlier news article there is evidence from autopsies of the penguins killed in the December attack that a dog was responsible: http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/large-dog-in-penguin-massacre/.

    Unfortunately it seems it only takes one dog to spoil things for all the other dogs whose owners do follow the rules.

    The post above was taken from the DECCW's press release, which is obviously from the Council's side. It is only fair that dog owners get a say as well, so I hope the Council will listen to their viewpoint.