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Mayor Michael Neoh gives Eudy and Tula an official send off

Maremmas resume their protective duties

News Article Date: 
Wednesday, 22 October 2014

After a well deserved break over autumn and winter maremma dogs Eudy and Tula have returned to Middle Island.

The pair are stars of the Middle Island Maremma Project, acting as guardians for the population of Little Penguins, which are recovering in number after years of predation by foxes.

The success of the maremmas, introduced in 2006, has seen penguin numbers reach in excess of 150 after dropping to less than ten in 2005.

Warrnambool City Council (WCC) Mayor Cr Michael Neoh saw the dogs head over to the island for their first shift of the breeding season.

“The dogs complement the great work done by Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village staff and volunteers. The recorded growth in penguin numbers shows that they are an effective tool.,” Cr Neoh said.

“It’s quite possible that without the maremmas Middle Island would have no penguins.

“And it is really encouraging to see Deakin University and local businesses supporting the program.”

The unique conservation management approach has captured the public’s imagination.

WCC Tourism Services Manager Peter Abbott said a key to the project’s success was the community partnership.

“Part of this partnership includes closing the island to public access and we need to remind people that access to Middle Island is prohibited year round,” Mr Abbott said.

“The sensitive environment as well as protection of the maremma dogs requires that this area be closed. We thank the community for this support over the years and hope that this continues for this breeding season.”

The maremmas will be the subject of a feature film to be released next year. An Italian film crew has also completed a documentary on the maremmas and a crew from National Geographic is currently producing a documentary on the dogs.

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