Sunday, 2 December 2007

dogs needed in order to save an island paradise

Penny isn't a hunting dog. Well, she seems to have killed a rat recently, which was a relief to me, as I knew rats were eating the skins off the lemons on our tree and I couldn't bring myself to set a trap. And she did grab a blackbird that had stunned itself by flying into a window. But, other than seeking out tennis balls, she doesn't generally hunt.

However, trained hunting dogs are needed in our neck of the woods.

Macquarie Island lies about 1500km south-south-east of Tasmania, about half-way between Tasmania and Antarctica. The main island is approximately 34km long and 5.5km wide at its broadest point.It was World Heritage listed in 1997 because of its exceptional natural beauty and unique geology that contains a record of life on earth.It is home to 80 breeding pairs of grey-headed albatross, the species' only breeding site in Australia. They are at risk of extinction because of nest-destruction by rabbits.

(This information came from an article in The Sunday Age and was sourced from the WWF and World Heritage.)

The article reports that:
Since rabbit numbers exploded on the World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island over the past couple of years, massive landslips - caused by overgrazing and tunnelling by the 100,000 bunnies - have sent entire hillsides falling into the Southern Ocean, killing king penguins and wiping out crucial albatross nests. At the same time, a living carpet of rats and mice have been feasting on the eggs in penguin and seabird colonies.

The plan is to poison the rats and mice, but the rabbits will have to be killed off another way, so hunting dogs are needed to kill the rabbits without harming the birds and other protected wildlife. Seeing it takes about two years to train a dog to work off the leash sniffing out rabbits and yet ignoring the other prey, it will be a while before it gets under way. It seems sad to have to poison animals but I guess this kind of plague can't be dealt with in any other way.

It's amazing the things dogs can be trained to do. I was also reading about two English springer spaniels who have learned to sniff out termites. They are keeping the wooden pillars of Korea's palaces safe. I read about this on the Active Canines blog. It had been posted by TheresaQ.


Amber-Mae said...

Me no hunting dog too! Me very gentle & would not even hurt a fly...I like to chase cats though coz they are small, fluffy & they run which makes me crazee!

Love licks,
Solid Gold Dancer

parlance said...

I can see by your photos and videos that you are gentle, Amber-Mae, and I think you must be too busy learning agility and entertaining tricks to do any hunting!