Trained dogs, students help protect Tweed shorebirds

The Little Tern. The species is under threat from foxes on the Tweed Coast.

The Little Tern. The species is under threat from foxes on the Tweed Coast.

School students on the Tweed Coast are helping authorities protect endangered shorebirds from foxes.

The fox-control project, which uses trained dogs to sniff out fox dens, is taking place on crown and council-controlled land along the Tweed Coast between Kingscliff and Wooyung.

North Coast Local Land Services (NCLLS) and Tweed Shire Council are co-ordinating the project, involving students from two local schools.

Tweed Shire is home to a number of birds of high conservation value that nest on the ground, such as the Little Tern, the Beach Stone-curlew and the Pied Oystercatcher.

Council’s pest management program leader Pam Gray says introduced predators such as European foxes pose a significant threat to the successful breeding of shorebirds ‘because they feed on their eggs and chicks’.

Kel Langfield, from the NCLLS, said the project was adopting some innovative practices to protect the birds including the trained dogs to locate fox dens in the targeted coastal areas.

‘The dens will then be fumigated to humanely euthanase the foxes,’ Mr Langfield said.

He said an important aspect of the NCLLS approach is ‘education and building community capacity.

‘The project will therefore be accompanied by an education and awareness campaign about shorebird protection, focusing on schools in the area,’ he said.

Students at the two public schools on the Tweed Coast helping out will learn about the shorebirds that call the Tweed home and help raise awareness about the importance of protecting the shorebirds from predators and impacts of people.

M’r Langfield said ‘school programs to educate young people are often an effective way to spread the word about issues of animal conservation.’

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