Redlands wildlife must be valued

SOME Coochiemudlo Island residents are angry over Redland City Council officers doorknocking people to make sure pets are properly registered and restrained.

They also are angry that some people have been fined for letting dogs run on beaches where pooches are banned.

They feel they are being singled out in some way.

They are not being singled out. This crackdown has been under way since late last year and, moreover, appears long overdue.

It was prompted by substantial complaints from residents about dogs let loose on footpaths, foreshores and sports grounds.

Years ago, when the old Redland Shire had a small population, the issue of roaming cats and dogs was of smaller consequence. 

As the human population has grown and wildlife numbers have decreased, the handling of domestic pets has emerged as a prime issue across the city and, indeed, the country.

An example is that late last year on North Stradbroke Island two koalas and a kangaroo were killed by dogs in two weeks. Of course, many more are killed but not reported.

Rare and threatened species of shorebirds live on Coochie. They have just as much right to live there relatively undisturbed as do humans and dogs and cats.

The argument has been raised that when British navigator Matthew Flinders visited Coochie he recorded the prints of dingoes so therefore dogs on beaches now is, in effect, not such a big issue.

This is ignoring how much the island has changed, how little wildlife there is, and how destructive our impact on other species is. 

It flies in the face of research showing high levels of pet ownership and the impact of roaming animals on wildlife.

University of Queensland research last year showed that when dogs are on beaches, usually birds are not. People without dogs on beaches had only a minor effect on birds.

Scientists found that dogs were not killing species but continually chasing them at a time when transient birds needed to rest and fatten for their long haul flight back to the Arctic, one of the world’s most remarkable migration stories.

It is understandable that islanders are annoyed about being fined. Who would not be? Regardless, islanders must accept that there are more than just pets to be thought of on such a special place as Coochie. As for council, it must ensure there are requisite off-leash areas to mitigate this clash.