A juvenile pelican has been killed at Careel Bay in what appears to be a dog attack.

Guy Crawford from Avalon Beach (image below) was walking his dogs last Thursday (02 June) at the nearby off-leash dog exercise area at Careel Bay when he saw something in the mangroves that concerned him.

“I was just walking along and I saw it through the corner of my eye, just sort of the whiteness. I tied the dogs up and went across and saw it [the injured pelican] there. I didn’t touch it because I wasn’t sure if I would cause more distress or hurt it more.

“Looking at the injuries to the pelican, it was definitely a dog, there was also dog paw prints around where I found it. My daughter is a vet nurse and my mother was in WIRES, so I called for help,” said Mr Crawford.

Gur Crawford at Careel Bay

Mr Crawford reported the injured pelican to WIRES, who sent a volunteer wildlife rescuer to the scene, just outside the off-leash dog exercise area at Careel Bay. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, the pelican was beyond assistance and had died.

The area immediately adjacent to the off-leash dog exercise area at Careel Bay is a protected wildlife reserve. The area is signposted with numerous council signs, advising that dogs must be on leads when they leave the area. Northern Beaches Council says owners whose dogs are off-leash in the protected area may be liable for two $330 on the spot fines, dog in prohibited area and dog not under control in public place.

Northern Beaches WIRES Area Coordinator Lyn Millett OAM (image below) said that whilst most dog owners are responsible, some still fail to understand the damage their dogs can do in a sensitive space.

“Some people don’t put their dogs on leads, and let them run on the sand flats, which is actually a bird sanctuary for migratory birds, and also for the local birds.

“We’ve been down here releasing baby seagulls in the summer after we’ve raised them. It’s a really good spot for releasing them because you’ve got the nice sand flats for them to feed. Next thing, dogs are running along the beach chasing them and we’ve had to yell at people to get their dogs,” said Ms Millett.

WIRES Area Coordinator Lyn Millett

Ms Millet has called on Northern Beaches Council Rangers to enforce the dog prohibited areas, saying although most dog owners are responsible, those who are not are causing enormous damage.

“It’s great that Council has given dog owners this facility, but the Council Rangers need to police it more. If they came a few times in a day, especially on the weekends, because there are lots of dogs running on the sand flat on the weekend, and fined them, well, it would soon get round. People need to think a little bit, perhaps it could have been their dog that ran and killed the pelican. Put them on a lead and don’t let them run on the sand flat,” advised Ms Millett.

Ray Brownlee

Ray Brownlee

Northern Beaches Council said it was unaware of this specific incident but confirmed Rangers regularly monitor the Careel Bay dog exercise area and ensure dog owners are adhering to their obligations under the Companion Animals Act.

“Injury to any wildlife is saddening to hear. Council staff are proactively monitoring this area and will continue to do so to ensure dog owners are following the rules,” said Northern Beaches Council CEO Ray Brownlee.

Images: Guy Crawford, Northern Beaches Advocate

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