Dogs gone from park beaches will protect plovers
In a move applauded by the community, the Victorian National Parks Association and local MP Martin Dixon, the Victorian Government will ban dogs from the beaches of Mornington Peninsula National Park.
For years unleashed dogs have played havoc with threatened Hooded Plovers, attacking and killing chicks and chasing adult birds away from their eggs.
Efforts to regulate dog access and educate dog owners have largely failed, with dog owners continuing to flout the rules and chick survival rates plummeting.
Hooded Plovers are beach-nesting birds, laying their eggs in a shallow sand scrape, making them highly vulnerable to disturbance - there are fewer than 600 left in Victoria.
Although dog restrictions were tightened in 2013, since then only five Hooded Plover chicks have fledged from 245 eggs. That's just two per cent, yet Birdlife Australia research has shown that in areas where dogs are banned, 70 per cent of chicks are successfully fledged.
The ban, which is to take affect from 1 November this year, follows a Parks Victoria review of dog access and a 20-year community campaign to better protect the Hooded Plovers.
The South Eastern Centre for Sustainability, along with the Friends of the Hooded Plover, has been at the forefront of the campaign.
Local Liberal MP Martin Dixon was thrilled by the news and told The Age: 'It was just wrong that in a national park with a threatened species you still had dogs allowed there under any circumstances'.
When announcing the ban, environment minister Lisa Neville said: 'The evidence shows that dogs and Hooded Plovers don't mix. The ban is the right decision to protect a vulnerable and threatened species for which the Mornington Peninsula National Park is an important habitat'.