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Byron Shire
March 28, 2023

Dogs attack bush wallaby on Byron’s beach

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Long time local Steve Medcalf rescued a bush wallaby from a dog attack last Wednesday on the beach near Elements Resort. Photo David Hancock.

Two dogs attacked a bush wallaby at the ‘no dog area’ of the beach, approximately 250m north of Elements of Byron Resort, last Wednesday.

‘As I started towards the beach a wallaby burst out of the dune and about one to two meters behind it were two dogs barking and growling,’ said Steve Medcalf who walks on the beach every day.

‘The wallaby stayed on the dunes as much as it could with the two dogs on its tail until it got to the fence at Elements and then it went onto the beach and into Belongil Creek. From there the wallaby hopped out into the ocean and went about 100m out with the dogs in pursuit.’

By the time Steve walked up the beach and was level with the wallaby one of the dogs had it by the ear while the other had it by the throat.

Steve headed into the water with a stick yelling out at the dogs who appeared to be border collie/kelpie crosses. One let the wallaby go and swam back to the beach while the one who had it by the neck kept a hold of the wallaby.

‘I got the other dog off,’ said Steve but pointed out that ‘it is not the dogs fault. It is the people who own the dogs that are responsible.’

The wallaby was being swept north towards Brunswick Heads and Steve realised he needed to get back into the water and save the wallaby.

‘I went out and got him – he was pretty exhausted. Once I got hold of him he was pretty calm. By the time I got him back to shore he was getting pretty heavy.’

With the help of his friend Louis they got the wallaby onto the dune and lay him down quietly and put a towel over him.

‘Then we made sure there were no dogs in the area.’

They called WIRES and council to report what had happened.

A couple who had stopped to take photos of the rescue saw one of the dogs go into a white van in the car park.

‘I was still furious so I got Louis and another person and we confronted the man in the van. We had strong words with him and told him the rangers were on their way. ‘

It is believed that the owner, a visitor from Victoria, had three dogs that he had let out to roam while he slept in his van.


WIRES came to check the wallaby a few hours later but it had crawled away and they couldn’t find it.

‘It is essential for the wellbeing of wildlife that people keep their dogs restrained on beaches,’ said a spokesperson for WIRES.

‘It is very important to remember if you do encounter a wallaby that has been chased into the sea that all attempts are made to minimise stress to the animal. Macropods (being wallabies, pademelons and kangaroos) develop a stress response called Myopathy that can lead to their death within 2-14 days after the stressful incident.

‘It is natural for us to think that because the dog did not catch the wallaby, no harm has been done. However, the wallaby may still face a painful and slow death. 

‘Wallabies can swim quite well, and in some situations a wallaby that has swum out in the sea or a river will find its way back to land. Each situation is different, however, and some wallabies may become exhausted. If it has been pulled from the water then cover it with a towel and move all people and dogs well away from the animal to give it time to recover. Importantly, call WIRES immediately on 66281898 so that a specialist rescuer can attend.’

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  1. Great work Steve ,
    Unfortunately this is happening on Tallow beach also . Too many dogs being led into no dog areas by their stupid non caring owners . They think that their dogs are more precious than any native wildlife . I have been personally threatened by dog owners when i have asked them to please respect the wildlife and walk their dogs in the approved dog areas only . I usually ask them if they are locals first and they usually reply very eagerly that they are and then i say ” well what is your excuse for having your dogs in the no dog area ” this is usually when they spin out and threaten me and spew abuse at me . Great isn’t it . Some people just do not care .
    Anthony .

  2. Just for the record, WIRES responded as soon as we were called…. not a few hours afterwards. Fingers crossed the Swamp Wallaby survived the attack OK.

  3. This is typical of the brain dead dog owners that you see every day in this shire.
    Solution: $5000.00 fine and banned from all types of pet ownership for ten years.

  4. Really, if dogs can’t be contained, there may have to be NO DOGS on beaches. How else do the wild creatures have any chance of survival? This man should have been arrested and served a heavy fine. Otherwise he will no doubt continue doing whatever he likes here and elsewhere.

  5. Ok…..I called wires using googlemaps which is the “go to” way to make contact via mobile these days but there was no listing for Wires Northern NSW or Byron bay…..if you’re with WIRES perhaps an idea to make that listing with Googlemaps because I can tell you the National Hotline is not worth wasting time on…..

  6. Some people also let their dogs run wild in the Brunswick nature reserve, and on the tidal flats of Simpsons Creek and Brunswick River, where water birds feed and nest and rest on their migratory journeys. Swamp wallabies used to be a regular sight but rare these days. There are at least 5 homeless camps in the first kilometre behind the dunes in the coastal forest. Some of them have had dogs recently, including the one who bashed his dog to death. ABC National news reported recently that there had been 3 bushfires in 2 weeks in the nature reserve. I saw the damage and how they had started at one of the camps and spread outwards. A large area of regenerating bush that Byron Chemical Free Landcare has been weeding has been burnt to stubble, including many juvenile trees, bushes, grasses, vines.
    Council doesn’t have enough rangers to cover all these area.

  7. What is it about some dog owners? Each time I have seen dogs chasing wallabies, driving a critically-endangered beach-nesting bird from its nest and threatening me or jumping up at me uninvited the owner has always either reacted aggressively when approached or made me feel like the guilty party. Never ever an apology. I did get apologies the three times I was bitten – quite unprovoked. I suppose out of fear of having to turn up in court.

  8. Well done Steve !. Protection of our native wildlife is a culture that must be developed by all locals and visitors, until it is common place. The owners of dogs,(also cats), must become aware of their responsibility/liability for their pets behaviour, and be held accountable.


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