Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

January 7th 2011
Vale koala 049

Koala 049 alive in December Following a sad and grizzly discovery yesterday morning Magnetic Times feels compelled to ask the question, if you love Magnetic Island (or Australia for that matter) why let your dog roam outside your property or walk it off-leash?

The discovery was made beside the West point road at the Magnetic Island Country Club. Lying a few metres from the road was a dead male koala. On investigation it was clear, from the torn scraps of fur and the many puncture marks that this koala, tagged no. 049 as part of Dr Andrew Krockenbergers’ study (read here) and which had been carefully relocated by Island rangers in December from a tree to be lopped in Picnic Bay, had been attacked and killed by a roaming, off-leash dog.

Ranger in Charge Patrick Centurino
inspects the body of koala 049

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Magnetic Island Ranger in Charge, Patrick Centurino was clearly frustrated by the discovery. The koala appeared to be in perfectly good health at the time and was simply the victim of human carelessness.

Patrick told Magnetic Times, “Any given day on Magnetic Island, it is possible to observe at least one dog roaming freely around the streets.”

To prove his point Patrick was later in Nelly Bay where he photographed an off-leash dog (below) beside the Habitat Reserve.

Off-leash dog Nelly Bay

“(The attack) highlights once again the importance of responsible pet ownership especially when living close to a natural environment,” said Patrick.

“The last koala which had been positively identified as having been killed by a dog was in August 2005, (read here) a long time ago some may say, but of course these are only the ones we find. How many more are injured but have enough strength to go and hide to die that we don’t know about?

Magnetic Times today asked Townsville City Council how many fines have been issued in the last year for dogs being off-leash. The answer was “none”. Magnetic Times is seeking further information at present from Cr Trevor Roberts regarding the state of animal management enforcement practices on Magnetic and will report accordingly.

Attitudes by dog owners are however at the core of the problem. While the dog that may never cause harm for humans or wildlife is seen walking off-leash with the owner firmly believing they could not be a danger, the impact of one person walking an off-leash dog simply encourages other dog owners including those with potentially dangerous dogs to do likewise.

Tooth puncture marks were visible in a
number of locations across koala 049's body

For all the information about managing your dog according to local laws (Click here)

Other dogs with friendly personalities can undergo astonishing switches in personality when a wallaby or koala appears. Their natural urge to chase and kill takes over. The bottom line for ethical dog ownership must surely sit with owners setting the right example.

Patrick Centurino told Magnetic Times: “Pet owners have to start believing that their domestic animal may hurt wildlife and ensure that they never get a chance to do so. Everything else will flow naturally from that belief.

"Responsible pet ownership is neither new nor difficult. Pet owners know what to do. If you really don’t please contact me on 4778 5378."

Patrick Centurino provided information based on scientific research which shows that domestic dogs, particularly large breeds, are one of the key threats to koalas in urban environments.
Dogs represent the third most significant threat to koala populations, after the human impacts of habitat clearing and road trauma.
As koala habitat is lost, particularly to suburban development, the koala’s home range is becoming our backyards where domestic dogs are also found.
Scientific data shows medium and larger dogs pose a greater threat to wild koala populations:

* 96 percent of attacks on koalas were by dogs over 10kg (40 percent were by medium dogs between 11.25kg; 56 percent of attacks were by large dogs over 25kg)

* Medium to large-sized dogs are 20 times more likely than small dogs to attack a koala

* 80 percent of the koalas attacked by dogs die from their injuries or have to be humanely euthanased (Moggill Koala Hospital statistics)

* 4 percent of attacks on koalas were by small dogs weighing less than 10kg

* Koalas have more chance of surviving an attack if the dog is small (Source: QPWS research into dog mortality in southeast Queensland).
George Hirst

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Vale koala 049
Barbara Gibbs
January 7th 2011
And so is cause for the sunset clause to be introduced...sad for those who comply, but others cannot be trusted and don't care.
Chris C
January 7th 2011
Sickening! Again!

An incredibly balanced report Georgie - far more balanced than I could have been!! Your choice to publish was spot-on.

If Cr. Roberts cares to give me a call I'd be happy to point out where the Nelly Bay wanderer you photographed resides.
January 7th 2011
I tried to walk my dogs at Picnic Bay on leash but it was impossible because of two big local dogs known to the community that regularly roam. I can't walk my dogs in my own area again because of dogs (which are regularly reported as vicious) living down the road. As I have young children I cannot risk an attack because I cannot care for both my dogs and my children. In my own area I was told a backpacker had to climb onto a car and ring 000 to save herself. These dogs are still at large to attack and maim. We can report dogs off leash all we want but we cannot make the authorities respond. Let's hope a child is not the next victim.
Island View
January 7th 2011
Cross-posted at Blogging Townsville - or is that back-linked??
Arcadian resident
January 7th 2011
There are dogs continually roaming in Arcadia. The dogs bail up residents and tourists alike. I try to walk my dog on a lead but it takes some guts to do this! There are also dogs continually roaming in the National Park. I know that some of the dogs belong to a family in McCabe Crescent. I've certainly complained about them and I know others have too, but nothing ever seems to happen. When is Townsville City Council going to do something about this menace?
Peter T>
January 7th 2011
We have had a "Tagged" koala living in a tree in our yard for about 3 years.AN incredibly healthy specimen also..It has not been seen for 3 weeks now.Possibly the same one.
Dining in Picnic Bay last evening there were at least 2 dogs roaming freely with no leads and no council tags..This certainly needs to be addressed..Good article George
Sara S
January 7th 2011
Can I suggest that people report wandering dogs directly to Townsville City Council? You can do it easily on their 'Report A Problem' page.

That way Cnr Trevor Roberts will have a list of dog wandering offenders in writing that he can act upon, and also see the number that are on the loose. (TCC URL removed due to software constraints Ed)
John Grieg
January 7th 2011
Until they get an independent dog catcher this problem will continue. No point in having a guy who knows all the long trem residents (and their dogs) and has to live along side them @ golf, the supermarket, the pub etc. It's not just Koalas, it's curlews and small dogs that hare killed. Wasn't a Bichon taken in Nelly?
January 8th 2011
I agree Melinda, how long before a child becomes the victim? I was chased by a large black dog in McCabe Cres Arcadia a few years ago when I was letterboxing. I had a baby in a pram and was very frightened by this snarling dog which I was later told by the owner would not hurt a fly. Yeah right! A big issue on the island is people living with dogs on unfenced properties, of which there are many. I would love to see council finally acting on the dog problem here. Thanks Sara for your suggestion, I hope people do start reporting.
January 8th 2011
An absolute tragedy yes, very sad. But please stop the beat up of all dog owners! I too had dinner in Picnic Bay last evening and was very pleased to see numerous responsible dog owners with all animals either being walked on leash or tied up whilst their owners enjoyed their dinner. I counted at least 8 dogs being more than appropriately controlled and didn't see any roaming free. In fact I think that Peter T may have even been sitting at the next table? As a responsible dog owner myself I'm a bit over a few ruining it for the masses - bring on change with tougher Council rules by all means but at the same time us responsible dog owners could do with a bit in return. In NSW, under the Companion Animals legislation, every council must provide off leash excercise areas for dogs. These areas work extremely well and are a pleasure for all, including folks without dogs. Townsville Council has failed dog owners over here as we have no such area. The breakwater and Helliport would have been ideal as you can see everyone come in and go out so dog owners have plenty of time to get their animals under control. Unfortuneately it looks like that possibility has been taken from us now thanks to the encouragement through artificial means of fodder being placed there for the Wallabies. I will be personnally lobying council for an off leash area and will check for Qld equivalent of the NSW Companion Animals Legislation. Finally, as a note to John Grieg (above) - It's a bit rich to be so harsh on our Dog Catcher, he does an absolutely marvelous job and is very pro-active in his work through his knowledge of the owners on the island. It's a great shame his hands are tied as far as feral cat irradication and irresponsible ownership of moggies is concerned because these animals are also capable of such slaughter of our wildlife and are largely unchecked.
If anyone wants to join a loby group for an appropriate off leash area I'd be very interested.
January 8th 2011
I agree with John - Council it's time you got some independent animal officers (dog catchers) to the Island on a regular basis. With the amount of dogs off leash it wouldn't be hard to more than adequately cover the costs of doing this. Of course dog owners like our dog catcher - why wouldn't they? He's a nice bloke and accordingly no one ever gets fine. Yeah it's hard fining the mate down the road who's got a little yapper that harms no one or no thing but is walked off-leash but if you don't fine him then how can you fine the ****head who's got a dog that's allowed to roam all day and night chasing wallabies and curlews for it's exercise? When it bites a kid then something happens but until then nothing much happens. Every beach and street on this island is an unofficial off leash area - not to mention the national park. If Council wants to fix this problem they need to regularly (every week at least) send animal officers to the island. This would reduce the off leash and roaming dog problem over night.
January 9th 2011
I own two dogs I am a responsible dog owner,, I have a back yard completly fenced, my dogs have not wandered into my front garden, and are caged in a ute securly when I go out, but I am sick to death of being harassed by other dogs. to start with four dogs in Arcadia, one at a beach front business Marine parade, off leash and wondering over two years now, 3 others RSL area , one never on a leash and wandering round for over 3 years, I was walking one of the dogs one evening when I was attacked by two dogs, these people own a Island home and come from town and let them run about, whilst here, another in Arcadia, my dog was sitting inside the fly screen door and was confronted by another visitors dog, consequently I finished up with a fly screen ripped, go to Picnic and another dog always near a cafe, jumps up to the car scratching it, anoying both my dogs, again why should I and others have to put up with this just because so and so knows so and so, and "we have been doing this for years". typical Island! and before someone tuts , I have been here 24 years. Nelly bay shopping centre has a dog wondering all the time near two cafes, no one says or does anything, people have to leave there tethered dogs while doing shopping and you have to worry whats going on outside. I have seen a dog eating a Roo on two occasions outside the Rec Club once again off leash, its not fair on responsible owners, when I take my dogs for walks now I have to carry a BIG stick and a handfull of pepper, I do have photos to back up anything I have said. come on dog owners do the right thing for once,
January 9th 2011
Hewie, nothing has changed at the helipad / Presto Breakwater area. You can still walk your dog there and the wallabies still have their refuge in the stone breakwater.
But what of the roaming dogs? The dogs which have no collar, no leash and for all intents and purposes, no owner. These are not 'companion animals' within the meaning of that legislation you quoted. Off-leash areas are for owners who are willing to stick around and attend to their dog's exercise and recreation needs. Sticking around and attending..... now there's a challenge.
January 9th 2011
How very very sad. There are many issues for TCC to tackle: wandering off-leash dogs, noise, litter, dumped cars, mowing of footpath reserves - the list is endless. Mind you, people too could help and take responsibility for their own backyards (literally)and actions: walking their dogs on leash, not letting their animals roam, being considerate of neighbours re noise and barking dogs, not throwing litter, not dumping cars on their front reserves, taking pride in their immediate properties and surrounds and of course Magnetic Island itself. Magnetic Island has a long way to go before it could by any stretch of the imagination be awarded a 'Tidy Town' award.
January 9th 2011
Back to the sad tale of Koala 049 - it was a pity a tree had to be lopped at Picnic Bay to cause Koala 049 to be relocated. Yet another tree gone, I wonder when people will learn to live with trees - remember the song 'Yellow' Taxi' - (paraphrasing) chop all the trees and put in a parking lot!
January 9th 2011
That big Ridgeback in Nelly is a problem when I try to walk my little dog. It is disgusting how the longer term residents think they own everything and have no respect for the dogs of newer residents who use leads. Not to mention the wildlife they kill. Those poor Curlews!
Andrew Krockenberger
January 11th 2011
I was very sorry to hear that koala #49- we called him Dennis- had been killed by a dog. Dennis was a young male koala, probably around 3 years old and in prime condition (nearly 8 kg), who would have relatively recently established himself in his range around Picnic Bay and could possibly have managed another nearly 10 years as a Picnic Bay resident. On the upside, Peter T, he couldn't be the tagged koala you've been seeing for several years because he was only tagged in September 2010, so your one may just be having Christmas break from your garden.

Thanks for the article George. As an outsider, I'm not going to buy into the discussion around control of dogs on MI because it is clear that there is a solid discussion going on and your NPWS staff are supporting you and providing you with good information.
January 11th 2011
Dahlia is onto something. I have seen that big ridgeback many times near the park opposite the Habitat roaming free. Scary. What's wrong with some people? And why is it allowed to roam free?
January 12th 2011
@ Melinda, I know you are talking about my dogs, but you are sadly mistaken..YES I had a problem with them getting out which has been resolved. Of late, I have had no back fence as they were doing the septic, BUT, they have been on a runner outside. As for being vicious, 1 is a pup ( lab cross 5mths old ) and 1 a husky that talks which may sound intimidating and scary! They are not vicious ! Akira, which is my husky, has kids laying over her all the time and doesnt batt an eyelid' So you dont have to worry about your kids ( maybe your screaming at the top of your voice has something to do with it )
And seriously, if they were reg reported, would they still be here ??
Interested Obsever
January 13th 2011
@ Kylie. Are you saying that your dogs are the ones which roamed Picnic Bay? The Bay where the Koala was mutilated? Not Melinda LOL
January 13th 2011
No, lol..not putting my hand up for that one ! they got out a couple of times in the past but have been on runners our hard working dog catcher knows :D Its really sad about the koala but could have been any dog or anything, maybe another male koala as it was recently relocated ??? just a thought :D
January 13th 2011
Chalkie you're preaching to the choir as far as I'm concerned. Maybe it's time for residents to get tough and "dob" in those dogs who are wandering the streets or being walked unleashed. Use your mobile cameras if you have to for proof. People don't like a dobber but enough is enough. They'll be baying for blood the first time a child is seriously hurt or worse by the dog belonging to one of their neighbours. Most residents know who's dog is who's in their area, which ones are allowed to roam and those that are kept restrained, and so does the resident dog catcher.
Long time visitor from Melbourne
January 14th 2011
What a terrible story. Everybody loves Koalas.

Over the years I have noticed on my many visits the number of roaming dogs on Maggie, mostly very large dogs too.

I could never understand it but about 4 years ago my wife got a little white fluffball that she claims is a dog. We walk it everywhere and are never harassed by any wandering dogs in our suburb.

But then we literally crossed the railway tracks one day on a walk and it seemed that EVERY house had a big angry dog.

Now real estate prices on our side are crazy and there is ZERO graffiti. But over ther in the (Housing Commission) side the prices are low and there is graffiti everywhere but it is the large dogs wandering everywhere that we notice most over there.

Can someone explain this phenomenon to me please?

I would have thought that sensible people moved to beautiful Magnetic Island not the other type
January 15th 2011
Thank you for your kind thoughts regarding Koala (049) Long Time Visitor from Melbourne. However, I find your comments "I would have thought that sensible people moved to beautiful Magnetic Island not the other type" and reference to Housing Commission two bob snobbish and down right offensive. Newsflash, the dogs that are allowed to roam free on Maggie come from all sorts of socio economic homes.BRRRRRRIIIIIGGGTTTTOOON and Toorak have a fair share of undesirables living there as well.
Long time visitor
January 16th 2011
No offence intended there Islander!

I feel for those poor people too and pay huge taxes which help them, not to mention some other things we do.

The fact remains that Koala 049 would be alive today without large roaming dogs. So would plenty of Curlews and other wildlife.

From the comments above it seems that I am not the only one who recognises that large roaming dogs are a real problem on Maggie.

It surpirses me that it is so tolerated as normal on Maggie.

Is it just an historical thing that old timers have done for decades or do the newbies allow their large dogs to roam also?

And I suspect even I know what dog that big Ridgeback is in Nelly. I have seen it wandering near a business I frequent

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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