SHOULD DOGS BE ALLOWED IN NATIONAL PARKS IN VICTORIA?
In late 2012, MEA reacted strongly to a Parks Victoria request for comments on proposed bans on dogs in National Parks and made a detailed submission. This press release summarises the MEA position.
ENVIRONMENT GROUP APPLAUDS MOVES TO BAN DOGS FROM SOUTHERN PENINSULA NATIONAL PARKS
Mornington Environment Association has made a unanimous decision to back Parks Victoria’s proposal to keep all dogs off the beaches of the Peninsula’s Southern National Parks.
President, Jan Oliver said today “Our monthly meeting and members have discussed the management options put forward by Parks in an attempt to regulate dogs being walked off leash in the National Park. Parks are for conservation, not dogs.
We hear that 80% of dog walkers allow their dogs off leash even when they know plovers are nesting on the beach, and that wallabies and other native animals have been chased and killed.
Walkers have had their chance to show they can control their dogs over the past 14 years. They have failed. Parks Victoria has had to divert its scarce resources into trying to get dog walkers to obey the rules. Volunteers guarding the nests and chicks of the threatened Hooded Plover have been assaulted. Tourists have been threatened by dogs. Control of foxes, essential to save wildlife, has been halted by dogs off leash as dog owners complain their dogs will take baits or get caught in traps.
Many of us have dogs too, and know those surf beaches well. But, we don’t take our dogs there. There are other beaches and reserves where dogs can be run off leash. Dogs (on or off leash) can’t be in National Parks, chasing wildlife, leaving scents and excreta which warn off native animals.
We all agree that National Parks are not for dogs. We hope that the public will respond to this excellent management option and tell Parks Victoria to prohibit dogs.”
What was the result?
On 4th June 2013, Parks Victoria released the results of nearly 700 submissions:
Review of Dog Walking – Mornington Peninsula National Park
“Parks Victoria is pleased to announce the outcomes of the Dog Walking Review for the Mornington Peninsula National Park which was subject to a ‘Have Your Say’ community consultation process in October and November 2012.
The analysis demonstrated there is community support for a ban on dogs in the park as well as a community desire for continued dog walking. 52% of submissions preferred a total ban or more restrictions and 44% preferred no change or fewer restrictions.
Based on the independent analysis of the submissions, a year round ban on dogs in additional areas of the Park will be introduced on 1 September 2013 to enhance protection of fauna values and reduce the impacts of dogs on other visitor experiences. In determining the future management of dogs in the Park, Parks Victoria acknowledged there is both significant community support for additional restrictions, including the option for a total ban on dogs, as well as a strong desire by many local residents for continued dog walking opportunities.
In balancing the need to improve conservation outcomes and provide for the recreational desires of residential communities abutting the Park, year round bans on dogs will apply in additional park areas including Gunnamatta Ocean Beach, sections of the St Andrews and Rye Ocean Beaches, sections of Portsea Surf Beach including the Sphinx Rock area, and sections of the Flinders to Cape Schanck coastline. The majority of the areas where the ban will apply are adjacent to rural areas or areas with low levels of residential development and minimal direct beach access.
The areas where dogs will be prohibited are key Hooded Plover breeding areas and/or habitat areas for small mammal species such as the threatened White-footed Dunnart and the Long-nosed Bandicoot. The dog ban areas will benefit many of the Park’s threatened fauna species, including the ability to undertake intensive pest animal control, and enable visitors to enjoy more areas of the Park without the presence of dogs.
The new regulations will become effective from 1 September 2013 and dogs on leash can then only be walked in designated areas as shown on the attached map from sunrise to 9.00 am. Detailed maps showing where dogs can continue to be walked can be viewed or downloaded on Parks Victoria’s web site.
Parks Victoria has also determined to undertake a further review on dog walking in the Park in 2015, to assess the effectiveness of these new restrictions in achieving improved conservation outcomes, as well as the level of community compliance with the regulations. This review may result in further restrictions on dogs in the Park.
For enquiries please contact Parks Victoria on 13 1963”
MEA is pleased to see that PV took a firm stance and that, from 1/9/2013, the National Parks now enjoy protection from dogs.