Dog “no-go zones” to protect birdlife

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With Warrnambool’s open spaces along the coast and the Merri River especially popular during summer, dog owners are reminded that dogs are not permitted at Stingray Bay, Pickering Point or the South Warrnambool wetlands at any time of the year.

Warrnambool Mayor Cr Ben Blain said that it was a timely message with a number of migratory birds arriving in Warrnambool over summer.

“Warrnambool is a big enough place for dogs to be able to exercise without disturbing vulnerable birdlife,” he said.

“Our little penguin colony is world famous and keeping dogs away from Stingray Bay and Pickering Point helps to protect them, but there’s also a wide variety of other bird species who nest, raise their young and seek sanctuary in the wetlands of the Merri River or the Marine Sanctuary.

“We’ve developed a handy map that shows you everywhere dogs are permitted, including off-leash areas.

“So if you want to make the most of your time outdoors with your dog and help protect native wildlife, visit our website or pick up a hard copy at the Civic Centre at 25 Liebig Street.”

Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Network chairperson Bruce Campbell urged dog owners to do the right thing and avoid taking their dogs to Pickering Point, South Warrnambool Wetlands or Stingray Bay in the Merri Marine Sanctuary.

"Merri Marine Sanctuary and surrounds are very special places right next to Warrnambool,” he said. 

“So too are the South Warrnambool wetlands.  

“This is why they are a no-go zone for dogs, whether on a lead or not.  

“At low tide the Stingray Bay beach provides a resting place for many birds, including threatened Hooded Plovers. 

“At very low tides the last thing we want is for dogs to get across to Middle Island to terrorise Little Penguins and Short Tailed Shearwaters while they are trying to care for their chicks.  

“Our wetland areas are visited by the extremely rare Orange Bellied Parrot that come here to feed.”

The colour-coded dog walking map, as well as other handy information about responsible pet ownership, can be found on the Warrnambool City Council website: www.warrnambool.vic.gov.au/pet-ownership