Tasmanian Times

Media Release

Chicks on beaches – do not disturb!

Image – Pied Oystercatcher chick hiding in coastal grasses. ©Eric Woehler, BirdLife Tasmania.

Media Release
Dr Eric J Woehler
Convenor BirdLife Tasmania

16 November 2018

BirdLife Tasmania today reminded beach-goers around the state to not pick up
or remove chicks supposedly ‘abandoned’ by their parents, or appearing to be

The call followed a number of shorebird chicks being handed to Parks and
Wildlife staff by well-meaning members of the public who had collected the
chicks in the mistaken belief that they needed ‘rescuing’.

“Chicks of shorebirds such as Hooded Plovers and Pied Oystercatchers are
unable to fly until they are between four and seven weeks of age. Until then, they
rely on their camouflage to avoid detection” Dr Eric Woehler, Convenor of
BirdLife Tasmania said today.

“The parents will be wary and close by, alerting their chicks to remain still and
hidden until the perceived danger from the people in the area has passed”.

“When it is safe to do so, the chicks will reunite with their parents”.

For the same reasons, it is critical that people keep their dogs on leads when they
go to beaches where dogs are allowed. “Dogs off lead will easily find chicks
hiding in the vegetation and will often kill chicks – this is something we have seen
too often around Tasmania” Dr Woehler added.

“Beaches are breeding habitat for shorebirds and seabirds, and not picking up,
handling or removing chicks will ensure the birds’ breeding efforts are

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  1. Ted Mead

    November 19, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Peter … Yes, my sentiments exactly.

    Basically anywhere that dogs are allowed to roam freely will result in a great, if not total, loss of wildlife. The only suitable place that I can recommend dogs be permitted to wander around uncontrolled should be the likes of a Cambodian mine-field, preferably accompanied by their red-necked owners.

    John … It comes as no surprise to hear that there is little bird life left on the South Arm beaches. A year or so ago I was wandering along Mortimer Bay cleaning up plastics when I was assailed by some redneck’s dogs, and the verbal I received was just as offensive when I defended myself. I took the matter up with the Clarence Council (which has 8 animal control offices) but they couldn’t act because the Police refused to supply the offender’s address.

    I was left to make sure that the Police followed my complaint. As a result I will probably never go back to that miserable dog-infested patch of coastline!

  2. Peter Bright

    November 19, 2018 at 7:06 am

    John, Tasmania’s Dog Control Acts (1987 and 2000) were made to secure order in the control of dogs.

    This legislation is commonly ignored by the authorities appointed as enforcement agents. These are (a) Councils during council hours, and (b) Tasmania Police outside of council hours.

    Neither councils nor the Police want this job, and so their standard method of duty denial is to regard dog victims as the nuisance, not the owners upon whom full legal responsibility for total control at all times has been allocated.

    Dog owners are besotted with their pets whom they regard as members of the family who can, like themselves, do anything they like, whenever they like, wherever.

    Owners are extreme narcissists in this regard, and they absolutely hate being reminded of their responsibilies. They bitterly resent any form or rebuke, direct or implied, and retaliation is common.

    In this situation of nationwide defiance of law it is entirely proper to rescind those parts of the Dog Control Act which authorise the possession of up to two dogs per household.

    No Dogs Anwhere has long been the proper solution – provided it is rigorously enforced. This would much reduce your entirely legitimate concerns about the welfare of Nature’s many wonderful creatures, and that of our youngsters and the elderly.

    Policemen signed up to restrain criminals. They did not contract to become Animal Control Officers. Try asking one for help, but be prepared for insults, contempt and unconcealed resentment .. and of course, inaction.

    It’s not uncommon for the so-called enforcement authorities to take the side of the offender. There are no hassles for them that way, and they can be sure that their salaries will stay the same.

  3. john Wiseman

    November 19, 2018 at 5:46 am

    I have called National Parks about the dogs on South Arm beaches numerous times over 10 years. No response, and now no birds.

  4. Ted Mead

    November 18, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    I’m disturbed to hear that this is occurring, albeit from people with good intent. It clearly shows how detached some (far too many) are from understanding basic ecology and animal/bird behavior.

    And as if these shoreline-breeding birds don’t get enough pressure from the likes of dogs, horses and vehicles!

    It may get to the point whereat even humans should be prohibited on some beaches during the breeding season.

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