Protest about changing dog ban

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Timaru penguin advocates have started a petition protesting against proposed changes to Caroline Bay’s summer dog ban.

Timaru Penguins co-ordinator Peter Bennett said the group was going into “friendly battle” against the Timaru district councillors after the announcement of proposed amendments to the bylaw that would allow dogs on the bay between 5am and 9am during summer.

He was concerned that, given the proposal was still under discussion, councillor Sally Parker had announced online on the day of the hearings that the bylaw “will be changed”.

The current bylaw bans dogs at all times on the bay from October to March.

Mr Bennett, a dog owner, said he saw no need for dogs to be allowed on the bay during the summer as they could bother the penguins that nested at the port end of the beach.

Another issue was swimmers and other beach users coming into contact with dog urine and faeces left on the beach, despite signs asking owners to pick up after their pooches.

Mr Bennett said he felt the concerns of the Timaru Penguins group members, as well as other representatives from Forest & Bird, had not been listened to during the hearing process.

Allowing dogs on the bay at 5am, when it was still dark in October and March, would interfere with adult penguins heading out to sea without their chicks before dawn, Mr Bennett said.

Making sure dog owners stuck to any restricted time period could also be an issue, because even though dogs were banned from the bay, two had been spotted during the weekend, he said.

A Timaru District Council spokesman told The Courierthe bylaw was being looked at by council environmental compliance staff, who were due to present a report on the proposed changes at the next council meeting.

While the bylaw was set to change in March next year, councillors could still revisit options in the coming months.