Dog Attack Kills Another Wallaby In Our Area: NBC Council LGA tops dog attack statistics in first 2023/24 statistics reported
(The following is a first hand account from a local offshore resident - this news item was first run in the West Pittwater Community Associations' News, December 2023)
Late in the afternoon on Thursday 30 November, 2023 two local lads rescued a wallaby and a dog from a channel in the Bays. It appeared that the dog – a roaming animal that belongs to a local family – was pursuing the wallaby through the water.
The dog was returned to its owners and the wallaby was taken ashore and released. It was low tide at the time. However, instead of heading for the relative safety of the bush, the wallaby followed the shoreline west toward another bay. It is very likely that it was frightened, exhausted, and disoriented by this time.
A little later, and not far from the rescue and release operation, another locally known roaming dog was seen dragging a wallaby carcass on the low-tide sand flats. Upon inspection, it was determined that the wallaby was a healthy buck that was only recently dead and fully wet from being in the water. Its head had been partly devoured by the dog however, the rest of its body appeared unscathed.
We don’t currently have data on how many dogs live part or full-time in the Bays, but they are numerous and their number seems to be increasing. Unfortunately, some of these dogs are not restrained, properly supervised or trained.
In addition to the obvious trauma to our protected wildlife, the consequences of careless dog ownership can also be destructive to the fabric of our community; for example, other dog owners are often emboldened to behave in similar ways, thereby creating and/or exacerbating neighbourhood frictions; wildlife-attacking dogs may develop a ‘taste’ for the rewards and their behaviour can shift from opportunistic to deliberate stalking and/or killing; and frustrated residents may decide to take dog-control matters into their own hands, which can create its own set of escalating problems.
The above account ran after a July 2023 record, first run in the West Pittwater Community Associations' News, of another wallaby being attacked, this time at Lovett Bay.
The carcass of young female wallaby (perhaps 12-18 months old) was found at the base of Tarrangaua’s driveway near Lovett Bay Wharf on the morning of Friday 30 July. It appeared to have been attacked by a predator, as its throat, most of its jaw and part of its head were missing. Those who found the wallaby were unable to determine exactly what killed the wallaby, or when and where the attack took place.
The wallaby’s death was reported to the Northern Beaches Council Animal Management team and National Parks and Wildlife.
''While we don’t have hard evidence that the wallaby was killed by a dog (or dogs), at this point a dog attack seems the most likely explanation.
Please ensure that your dog remains under your control at all times, as per the Council regulations. As in, when the dog is off-leash, it remains within the boundaries of your property. And when the dog is not within the boundaries of your property, it remains on-leash.'' those who found the wallaby stated
West Pittwater Community Associations' News Editor’s note: National Parks and Wildlife Ranger Luke McS.... says that while the wallaby carcass would need expert examination to determine how the animal was killed, it is probable given the location that a dog rather than a fox was responsible. Luke made the point that with fox baits now in place in Ku-ring-gai National Park (see the NPWS notice below for details) dog-owners have even more incentive to keep dogs on-leash.
“If a domestic dog does take a bait, there is no antidote and it is lethal,” he said. “The inadvertent killing of a domestic dog (terrible in itself) can also put a critical pest management program at risk of being discontinued, which will have serious negative conservation outcomes for native fauna, particularly threatened species which this control program is designed to protect.” The onus is on dog owners to ensure that their dog or dogs are not a nuisance and do not pose a threat to anyone or anything. If you witness a dog roaming or otherwise acting contrary to council regulations (see excerpts below), and its owners do not immediately act to rectify the issue, please report it to Northern Beaches Council.
The deaths of these two wallabies are among others that have been sent into Pittwater Online. At 9.40am, Sunday March 12, 2023 a resident witnessed 2 offleash dogs attack and kill a water dragon behind a home in Wesley Street, Elanora Heights - Narrabeen.
The two dogs then continued into the reserve, ''clearly on the hunt for more wildlife'' the resident stated.
Residents are also sending in photos of offleash dogs chasing wildlife on our beaches - every week emails come in with photos of dogs with their owners in no dogs areas.
Our area has a number of WPA's (Wildlife Preservation Areas) to ensure resident and seasonally visiting wildlife may live and raise their young in peace and safety.
Just as frequent are dogs attacking local children while they play on beaches, sportsfields, or are simply walking around their neighbourhood.
The area has 29 dog-off leash areas. These range from the shared use of sportsgrounds, to fully fenced dog parks and foreshore reserves. Five of these are great if your dog likes to get wet or have a swim: Sandy Bay, Clontarf - Rowland Reserve, Bayview - Curl Curl Lagoon, North Curl Curl - Lagoon Park, Manly - Progress Park, Narrabeen (Mullet Creek).
The first quarter of statistics for the Northern Beaches Council area on dog attacks (to September 2023) records there were 65 attacks in this LGA - 2 more than Central Coast Council area that has twice as many dogs (156,443 registered dogs compared to 71,528 for NBC) and numerous offleash areas, and the highest across all metropolitan councils by a big margin for that quarter, with only Shoalhaven Council recording more with 71 attacks.
The Shoalhaven Council LGA is where 90-year-old Ada Holland was killed through a dog attack while walking along Collingwood Beach in March 2020.
In mid 2022 Central Coast Council, released for feedback its Dogs in Open Space Action Plan, which has since been adopted. The Central Coast had regularly topped the number of dog attacks in its LGA each quarter.
The Dogs in Open Space Action Plan proposed a winding back of dogs having off leash access (OLA) to decommission/relocate 6 OLAs, designate 13 additional OLAs in places where they will not impact on others, and modify the boundary of 10 OLAs.
That council does not allow dogs on sportsfields because of the conflict between sporting activities and dogs off leash, damage to the sports surface caused by dog urine and digging, dog litter not being picked up by dog owners, and general wear associated with dogs running to and from owners gathered on the sports field.
The decommissioning of some access to beach areas by dogs off leash was to mitigate what has evolved, specifically in off leash unfenced areas, where research has shown that the CCC have 'Dog owners who are of the opinion that they and their dogs have priority access to the space, and other people are a secondary user'.
In October 2021 Pittwater Online spoke to a mum whose toddler had been run over by a wet off leash dog at the proposed south Mona Vale beach site, and was one of numerous large dogs present. She was told that ''if she didn't like it to stay away, this is a dog beach''.
South Mona Vale beach is not an area where any dogs are currently allowed.
Another suggested she take her toddler to the north end of Mona Vale beach, a place too far for a toddler to walk to.
As well, Mona Vale residents find dogs off leash right along that beach now. Instances of dogs running up to and jumping on people, strangers, emerging from a swim are common and frequent at the north end of the beach and in the Mona Vale Basin, resulting in scratches, bites and taking away that place as a safe space for small children as well.
Menzies Institute for Medical Research stated a few years ago that ‘injuries due to dog bites are a largely unrecognised and growing public health problem’ and estimates that over 100,000 people are bitten by dogs in Australia each year. Twelve to fourteen thousand incidents require medical attention, and 1,200-1,400 incidents require hospitalisation.
The Central Coast Council's extensively researched document on what was occurring in their own LGA listed among the Challenges with on leash only areas:
- Owners letting their dogs off the leash in breach of leashing regulations resulting in the (same) additional challenges associated with off-leash areas
- Dog owners not being respectful of other users on trails and footpaths and appropriately controlling dogs (e.g use of extension leads)
Their DIOSAP also proposed that in line with the CAA (NSW Companion Animal Act, 1998), and to preserve public amenity and address risk management issues, that:
- dogs be excluded from patrolled beach areas and for 20m either side, including sand dunes extending to the waterline as a minimum
That Council is also responded to their residents calls to address the impacts on wildlife off leash dogs are having in their LGA.
The first benefit, the number one, listed for their proposed Dog Exclusion Areas is:
- Significantly reduces the impact of dogs on sensitive flora and fauna habitats. In particular on foreshore bird nesting sites where vulnerability to nest disturbance and potential predation is high.
Remember when Pittwater had birds nesting on our foreshores? Birds in the trees alongside all our playing fields until just a few years ago? Wallabies bounding through the bush?
That local record for the 2023/24 by quarters total to September 2023 for the Northern Beaches LGA comprises 9 people in what is defined as serious attacks(where the injury resulted in medical treatment, hospitalisation or death), 28 were attacks on people deemed less serious.
The total animals attacked is listed as 45.
The NSW Wildlife Rehabilitation dashboard (Wildlife rehabilitation data current to 30 June 2022) records 5,379 animals rescued in this LGA over the 2021/22 recorded period and 1,423 rehabilitated enough to survive and be released.
Those numbers record 3,956 did not make it.
Of of the 99 wallabies recorded just 7 were released.
Of these 44 came into care as the result of a dog attack, with 2 of threatened species among the 19 species attacked - 19 birds, 13 mammals and 12 reptiles. Just 13 survived to be released.
There were a further 105 attacks on wildlife recorded as having been caused by cats, and 36 listed as 'suspected attack/other'.
Across the whole recorded data period (June 2013 - June 2022) there have been 1,588 dog attacks on 94 species in this LGA - 475 animals were released.
This list comprises 911 mammals, 447 birds and 230 reptiles - possums and bandicoots have been the most impacted. Geese, swans, ducks, terns and gulls are also listed as victims of dog attacks in this area.
Those that were found already deceased due to a dog attack are not listed. There also growing evidence that many of these attacks on wildlife go unreported.
A January 2024 report states:
''You might think it’s harmless for your dog to chase wildlife if it never manages to catch the animals it chases, but that isn’t true. Wild animals optimise their behaviours to meet their needs for foraging, breeding and resting, and being chased by a dog can disrupt this.
For example, certain threatened bird species will nest on the beach and find foraging opportunities based on the tides. One dog forcing one bird to abandon this important activity may have a small impact. But if it happens repeatedly throughout the day, it can become a much bigger problem. It may even drive animals out of the area.
Research conducted in Sydney has shown the mere presence of a leashed dog is enough to temporarily, yet dramatically, reduce the number of bird species detected.''
Council's website advises;
Dogs who bark incessantly, roam and are aggressive are deemed a nuisance. A nuisance order may be issued if your dog repeatedly roams the neighbourhood, makes noise, defecates on peoples’ property, chases a person, animal or vehicle or damages property.
The law requires that your dog must be under effective control at all times and that you dispose of dog poo in a suitable manner.
The most unacceptable behaviour from dogs is aggression toward humans or other animals. As a dog owner, you are responsible for your dog’s actions.
The maximum penalty if a dog rushes at, attacks, bites, harasses or chases any person or animal, whether or not any injury is caused to the person or animal as a result of a reckless act or omission by the dog’s owner or another person in charge of the dog at the time of the attack is $22,000.
A restricted dog or declared dangerous or menacing dog to attack, bite, harass or chase any person or animal (other than vermin), whether or not actual injury is caused, carries a maximum penalty of $77,000.
However, if the matter goes to court the costs can be much higher. See: Sydney Dog Attack Victim Awarded $225, 000: July 2022
Council states dog attacks are taken very seriously and urges residents to report them immediately on 1300 434 434.
More information on how to report dog attacks to council is available at: www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/community/pets/dogs-and-cats
You can report roaming offleash dogs to council, anonymously should you choose, at: help.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/s/article/Roaming-Dogs
If you find a dog you don’t know wandering off leash, you can report a found dog to Council and a Ranger can come and scan the dog for its microchip details collection - or perhaps take it to the nearest vet which may know the dog and its owners. If the dog is collared and has a tag you could call the owner yourself so the pet gets home safely. If you could contain the dog safely and provide water until its owner turns up, that will help that dog.
Photo: Young Wallaby in Warriewood, March 2022. Photo supplied.
DOG NUISANCE BILL.
The following is the Bill introduced by Mr Rotton, "For more effectually abating the Nuisance occasioned by Dogs "
Whereas it is expedient to amend the law, relating to Ports Be it therefore' enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly of New South Wales in Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same as follows:
1. 'This Act shall commence and take effect on and from the first day of January next and shall be styled and may be cited as the " Dog Nuisance Act of 1863 "
2 The Act sixth William the Fourth number four is hereby repealed.
3 Whosoever shall keep any dog for fourteen days without causing a description of it to be registered and such registration to be renewed from year to year in manner hereinafter mentioned shall for every such dog so kept incur a penalty not exceeding forty shillings.
4 Every such registration shall be made by delivery at the nearest police office or office of petty sessions to the place where the dog is intended to be kept a description of such must in the form of the first schedule hereto with a. declaration to the truth of the contents thereof signed by the owner or keeper And the clerk at such office shall register such dog in a book to be kept there for that purpose and shall upon payment to him of the fee specified in the second schedule hereto give in return a receipt in the farm of the third schedule hereto And such receipt shall be conclusive evidence of the registration of the dog to which it relates And every such registration shall be deemed to be in force from the day upon which the same shall be made until the thirtieth day of September then next and no longer.
6. Whosoever shall wilfully insert or omit or wilfully cause to be inserted or omitted in any such description any thing false-or for the purpose of concealing the truth shall incur a penalty not exceeding forty shillings.
7. Every such Clerk shall cause to be entered in such book in alphabetical order a list of the names of all persons who shall have registered any dog during the current year shewing the numbers registered by each such person and shall keep such book during office hours in some convenient part of his office for public inspection And whosoever bail apply for the particulars in writing of any dog so
registered and of the name of the registered owner or keeper thereof shall be entitled to receive the same on payment of a fee of sixpence.
7. Any person may seize and detain any dog not duly registered under this Act and any Justice upon receiving notice thereof shall summon the reputed owner or keeper of such dog if known to appear and claim the same and if the owner or keeper or some one on his behalf shall not in obedience to such summons attend and claim such dog or if the owner be not known the same shall be forthwith sailed.
8. Any dog although registered which shall be found at large without a collar round its neck bearing illegible words the Dates and address of its owner and in the case of a mastiff or bull dog or a mongrel of either of the same not having a muzzle securely fixed upon its mouth so as to prevent it from biting any person or- injuring any property may be immediately destroyed. And all persons are hereby authorised and all constables expressly commanded to boom kill and destroy every dog to found at large, contrary to this enactment.
9. Every dog which shall in any highway or street rush at or attack any person or horse whereby the life or limb of any person shall be endangered or any property injured may in like manner and shall by any constable at hand be destroyed. And the owner or keeper thereof shall incur a penalty not exceeding five pounds for every such office of his dog and shall also forfeit and pay to any party aggrieved the amount of any damages occasioned by such dog.
10. Every dog lawfully destroyed under this Act there shall be paid to the person to destroy g the same a reward of two shillings and six pence on proof to the satisfaction of any of neighbouring Justice that such dog was so lawfully destroyed by the party applying for such reward and that such dog so destroyed was immediately disposed of so as to prevent any public nuisance or annoyance.
11. In any prosecution under this ACT every dog shall be deemed to be owned or kept by the person who shall be in the actual occupation of the house or premises upon which such dog shall be ordinarily kept or by the person whose name shall appear upon the collar worn at the time by such dog-unless positive proof to the contrary shall be adduced by the defendant. And such person shall be liable to the provisions of this Act as the owner or keeper of such dog whether kept for his own use or that of another Provided that with respect to any dog kept or used by a servant the same shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to be owned or kept by his master or employer for the time being.
12. Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to apply to any dog while actually employed in driving sheep or cattle or while accompanying a cart dray or other carriage if chained or otherwise securely fastened thereto or muzzled or to any dog under the age of six months or which shall have been kept for less than fourteen days-the proof of which several facts shall lie upon the owner or keeper of such dog.
13 Any constable having charge of any division or district whatsoever who shall fail to report to some Justice any dog kept waiting his division of district without being duly registered shall incur a penalty not exceeding twenty shillings for every such die out unless he shows satisfactorily that the fact of non registration was not known to him. DOG NUISANCE BILL. (1863, September 21). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13093687
Was used in NZ too: Dog Nuisance Act 1871 modified in 1874;
AN ACT to amend" The Dog Nuisance Act, 1863." Title. [Assented to June 9, 1874.J WHEREAS an Act was passed by he Superintendent and the Provincial Council of the Province of Nelson in Session XXI. No. 2 intituled the "Dog Nuisance Act Amendment Act 1871" and whereas it is expedient that the said Ac should be repealed and other provisions made in lieu thereof: Be it therefore enacted by the Superintendent of the Province of Nelson with the advice and consent of the Provincial Council thereof as follows; at: http://www.nzlii.org/nz/legis/nsn_ord/dno1874175.pdf
Henry Rotton (1814 – 11 October 1881) was an English-born Australian politician. Henry Rotton was born at Frome Selwood in Somerset to solicitor Gilbert Rotton and Mary Caroline Humphries. After failing to enter the Royal Navy, he entered the merchant navy as a midshipman and later officer. In 1836 he arrived at Kangaroo Island, whence he journeyed to Sydney. In 1839 he married Lorn Jane Macpherson, with whom he had two children; a second marriage on 18 March 1844 to Ann Ford produced a further eleven children. He ran an inn near Rydal in 1839 and ran mail coaches between Bathurst and Orange from 1849. From 1853 he was a horse and cattle breeder near Kelso. In 1858 he was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Western Boroughs. He transferred to Hartley in 1859, representing that seat until his defeat in 1864. Rotton died at Mynora near Moruya in 1881.