Dr Eric Woehler1, Mr Bruce George2
1Birdlife Tasmania, 2 Friends of the Low Head Penguin Colony
The Little Penguin colony at Low Head at the mouth of the Tamar River in northern Tasmania has suffered a series of dog attacks over the last two years, with more than 100 penguins known to have been killed.
Community concerns as to the viability and survival of the colony led to an invitation to BirdLife Tasmania to undertake mapping surveys of the colony, provide options for managing the area, and to engage with the local community – especially dog owners.
The Low Head peninsula was surveyed on foot and all evidence of Little Penguins (burrows, splash, runways etc) were mapped. Historical data from PWS surveys were collated with contemporary data to provide a contemporary baseline for the distribution of Little Penguins at Low Head.
The next stage of the surveys will see efforts to estimate the size of the breeding population. Concurrently, information sessions are being provided to inform the community as many burrows are located on private property. Information for dog owners aims to reduce – and ideally eliminate – any further dog attacks on penguins at Low Head.
Dr Eric Woehler has been working on seabirds for more than 40 years.