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Byron Shire
June 16, 2024

Another wallaby death on beach prompts calls on dog owners 

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Steve Medcalf with a dead wallaby. Photo supplied

A Byron local says a dead wallaby found on Belongil beach last Saturday had all the hallmarks of a dog attack, and is calling on the public to be more vigilant and for authorities to step up to help protect native wildlife.

Steve Medcalf told The Echo that he found dog prints surrounding the wallaby’s body, which ‘had its neck chewed out and the poor body disembowelled’.

‘I am a resident of Sunrise, and have been for the past 20-odd years, and take daily walks along Elements beach’. 

‘Unfortunately, there have been a number of previous similar incidents involving dogs chasing and attacking wallabies, as well as other native wildlife including nesting shorebirds. There was actually an incident with two dogs which I witnessed, which was published in The Echo back in 2019’.

Met with hostility

‘I continue to see dogs off the leash frequently while on my walks near Elements beach. I have approached owners (who are of all ages) on many occasions explaining that dogs are banned here and why (so as to protect wildlife) and I tend to be met with hostility. 

‘I’m largely ignored and they continue to walk their dogs off the leash around the sand dunes and down onto the beach’.

Medcalf says that despite a move to tighten up compliance around dogs, ‘so far, I am yet to see any ranger or Council member at our end of town to indicate Council are addressing the issue’. 

‘If it is a wild dog attack (as some have questioned), then I think that National Parks should be involved and distribute 1080 baits’.

On September 19, Council published a media release: Tide turning on responsible dog ownership in Byron Shire, in which it said, ‘Ten months on from the launch of Council’s Dogs in Public Spaces Strategy, increased enforcement and more education and signage is helping people to do the right thing when they’re out and about with their dogs and at our Shire’s dog beaches and foreshore areas’.

Manager Public and Environmental Services, Sarah Nagel, said, ‘While we cannot be everywhere at once, our approach is to ensure our patrols include an element of surprise’. 

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  1. There are no “wild dogs” in Australia. A DNA srudy published back in May of this year proved this. 70% of “wild dogs” tested were pure Dingo. All samples tested were 55% or more Dingo. I wish people would educate themselves before perpetuating colonisational myths!

  2. It is extremely unlikely a dingo would simply kill a swamp wallaby & not consume most of it. Almost certainly domestic dogs.
    And in the unlikely event it was a dingo, why should NPWS bait? no action necessary, swamp wallabies are one of their most common food sources where they co-occur due to their small size & solitary nature. What are dingoes supposed to eat?

    • I’ve had many goats over the years killed by dingoes, but not consumed. They are easily spooked, so if there is human activity around them, they may be comfortable killing, but not comfortable enough to stop and eat.

      • Christian, Goats are not wallabies.
        Dingo experts, woolgrowers & all the scientific literature will tell you goats & sheep are like practice, or a game to dingoes. Goats & sheep evolved to run from wolves / dogs, wolves / dogs evolved to chase them. Swampies are small enough to be taken down & dragged / carried by a dingo. Hungry enough to take it down it would definitely return for it. As above…. extremely unlikely for it to be a dingo

        • Kids are smaller than Wallabies. We have no Wallabies here, only western grey and red roos, that are my size or bigger as adults, and dingoes eat them. When there are Dingoes around, the roos come into the house paddock for protection.

  3. While it was likely that the Wallaby was killed by an off leash or wandering pet dog, of which impacts Leesh makes no comment (our local Walabies need protection too – isnt the point that all our wildlife need protection, including from the repeatedly reported dog and cat atacks?), but there are pet dogs that have gone wild. There was an Alsation finally caught, after living and hunting in one of our National parks for years , with his ex pet chain collar firmly embedded in his muscly neck.

    • Why? Why would we bother protecting them? Why do you think native creatures have supremacy over the other animals on this planet?

      • Believe it or not Christian our entire ecology of species has developed in concert, and breaches by the loss of one species causes the ecology to be ‘courser’ with out a varied species response to recover, and subject to further breakdown, and we, and all the natural functions that support human life are part of this web of life – climate change is shaping up to potentially send half of our species into extinction and their loss will effect vegetation and subsequently rainfall, oxygen supply and carbon drawdown, and all food supplies…. Humans dont give much credit to the free supply of what we need to survive, but the coming decades and centuries will stretch our capacity. And anyway pet owners should try and stop wildlife deaths and just have commercial animals killed to give to their pets to eat. Our skin and feather wildlife babies are not for peoples pets sport of killing.

        • Couple of questions…
          Aboriginals have lived through multiple mass extinct events, and a +100m sea level rise, why are they not extinct?
          Koalas barely interact with the environment, in fact nothing changes in area where they are absent, and Dingoes harm our survival, and are an introduced species, conversely, European Bees have a big impact on our survival. So if human convenience is the goal, there are a number of species we should extinct, like crocodiles, and a great number of species we should import, as we have with agricultural plants and animals, thus making an ecosystem more balanced in our favour. Would that be acceptable to you?

          • Re “Aboriginals have lived through multiple mass extinct events, and a +100m sea level rise, why are they not extinct?” Answer – the big mass extinction events happened well before humans evolved, and they adapted to the slow reduction of what was Australias inland sea and slow coastal sea level changes.
            “Koalas barely interact with the environment, in fact nothing changes in area where they are absent” – bit of a broad statement that doesnt corelate with the reality – go in a forest where koalas, and other species , have been logged out, and while the existing generation of trees still grow, some species of vegetation doesnt, and the forest is absent of birds. Trees even ‘communicate with others of the species 100mtrs away via underground soil species connections – our understanding of the ecology is still in the kindergarten, which should mean we have ‘hands off’ if we want to keep the web of life that is critical to also human life on this planet.
            There used to be crocodiles in the Brisbane river, and we should expect them here as the seas warm. The problem we have with making the ecosystum more balanced in our favour is that we have lost the plot on what is sustainable and are driving our living planet ecosystems to destruction, and that destruction will take out us as a species too – its going to get increasingly hotter well into the next century, and projections on the oceans increasing acidity may see all ocean life extinct this century, and that includes our ocean food as well. Time to stop debating impacts and instead working out how we will survive into this era

      • They, like all native fauna, are a protected species by law. Yes, even in Queensland!
        No-one has the “right” to wantonly & randomly kill, nor allow their dogs to.

        • And that’s the nut of it. You like certain animals, and I like others. My cats don’t randomly kill, and they don’t do it for fun, they do it for health. My animals are resilient and sustainable. Yours, apparently, are not.

  4. Quote ” Manager Public and Environmental Services, Sarah Nagel, said, ‘While we cannot be everywhere at once, our approach is to ensure our patrols include an element of surprise’ ”
    Certainly the element of surprise is that they never show up , I have lived here 10 years and almost daily , morning , lunch or late arvo would go to Belongil beach, near Elements and north towards Tyagarah and have NEVER seen rangers , COUNCIL can’t be bothered , nothing in it for them, they ARE too busy approving DA’s from large developers.

    Funny how once Elements resort opened they pressured council and police to fine people ( $500 ) for nude bathing at the beach just 100m north of the resort , Maybe Elements could once again Pressure council and rangers to manage this problem , do they not advertise themselves as an eco resort !

    Christian, please note this part of the beach from the northern end of Childe St all the way up to Brunswick river is a no dogs allowed area , There are also many nesting shorebirds that nest around the mouth of Belongil creek at Belongil beach. There ARE many dog beaches in Byron , but even then we need owners to be in control of their dogs at ALL times , If your dogs is likely to attack people or other animals inc. Wildlife then keep it on a leash.

    It is long overdue that council pull their fiunger out and do something , what about hiring 5 or 10 local aboriginal rangers who know this place better than most , and know how to protect this land ??

    UNTIL council start issuing fines to irresponsible owners , this will continue to happen!


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