Dog attacks on koalas are one of three main causes for the ongoing decline in our local koala population, and the project aims to reduce these attacks through specialist training as part of the 12 month pilot.
Renowned dog trainer, Steve Austin has been engaged by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to share his knowledge and train up to eight locally-based dog trainers. This transfer of knowledge, which uses wildlife protection principles, will provide invaluable insights that may be implemented into ongoing local training and education programs.
“Council takes the protection of our local koala population extremely seriously, and the trial program is yet another initiative we are undertaking to protect one of our most loved icons,” said a council director Matt Rogers.
“For the trial to be meaningful we are looking for up to 32 puppies and 16 known problem dogs to be trained, and encourage local dog owners to express their interest.”
The Payne family of Port Macquarie, who are owners of nine-month-old staffy ‘Zoey’ are keen to participate in the training program.
“It’s a great initiative because when we’re going for walks we often see koalas, and as a family we believe in looking after our local koala population,” said Bradd Payne.
“Zoey has already attended puppy pre-school, however it would be good to get some training to desensitise her so that we can be confident when we’re walking her she’s not going to bail up or hurt a koala.”
There are a number of pet ownership behaviours that are encouraged, including keeping dogs on leads while in public reserves, tying up dogs in yards at night and encouraging kids to get involved in programs that are run at school.
“Council will be contacting dog-owners in areas where attacks are known to be an issue, and will also be inviting owners of known ‘problem dogs’ to participate in the program,” Mr Rogers said.
Training is expected to commence in April, and dog owners can express their interest through Councils website at pmhc.nsw.gov.au/koalatraining, by dropping into any council office or by calling 6581 8111.