Three swans killed in another ‘very distressing’ off-leash dog attack

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Key points

  • A pair of native black swans and one of their cygnets were killed by a dog in Footscray on Sunday.
  • Local groups had raised the alarm about the safety of the family of swans in recent weeks.
  • Another adult swan was found dead nearby two weeks ago, suspected to be killed by a fox or dog.
  • Seven weeks ago, adult swan Mabel was killed by an illegally off-leash dog in Reservoir in the city’s north.
  • Wildlife Victoria has responded to more than 500 dog attacks on wildlife in the past six months.

Dog owners who let their animals run free in the wrong areas are under fire after another off-leash dog attack left three black swans dead in Melbourne’s inner west on Sunday, the second instance of a swan death along the Maribyrnong river in the past fortnight.

Maribyrnong Council is hunting for the dog owner whose off-leash dog savaged a family of native black swans on Sunday in an on-leash area near Footscray’s well-known Chinese Heavenly Queen Temple in the Maribyrnong River Reserve.

Two adult swans and one cygnet were killed during a dog attack on a family of swans in Footscray.

Wildlife Victoria confirmed that they were called in response to an attack around 3pm on Sunday, in which a dog lashed out and killed two adult black swans and one of four young cygnets.

The Footscray swan killings follow a similar attack in Reservoir in Melbourne’s north seven weeks ago, in which a resident male swan was widowed for a second time due to dog attacks.

Although there were witnesses to the attack, the council has not yet identified the owner or dog involved and is appealing for footage or information from the public.

One of the parent swans in recent weeks with cygnets before the attack in Footscray.

Bruce Dickinson, president of the Friends of Newells Reserve group, said black swans had mated and bred in the area alongside the Maribyrnong for at least nine years and that young cygnet clutches became a popular attraction with passersby this year.

The swans tended to move between Newells Paddock Nature Reserve and the Maribyrnong River Reserve, which adjoin under the Kensington railway bridge alongside the Maribyrnong River.

The Temple grounds abut the Maribyrnong River Reserve and the temple’s pond, where the swans were grazing on the day they were attacked, is exposed without a fence to the reserve.

Both Dickinson’s environmental group and volunteers from the temple had become worried about the safety of the swan family after a separate adult swan turned up dead – killed either by a fox or dog – and two of the six cygnets disappeared.

“I felt something like this could unfold because I can just see how the dogs run around the area,” temple volunteer Greg Rebelo said.

“I’ve seen dog owners just letting the dogs loose on the temple property. I have approached the dog owners and asked them ‘please don’t, as this is a temple. People’s ashes are here, it’s a memorial. Please show some respect’.”

Dickinson said council had agreed with the environmental group to install temporary fencing to protect the swans on the Friday before the attack, but the swans were killed on Sunday – a day before fencing was scheduled to go up.

“Every year they have a bunch of cygnets. We watch them trying to fly, doing silly things, it’s just amazing to watch the wildlife grow,” he said. “It’s such a terrible thing to happen, it’s very distressing.”

President of the Friends of Newells Paddock group Bruce Dickinson with Greg Rebelo, volunteer at the Heavenly Queen Temple with flowers left by members of the public for the dead swans.Credit: Penny Stephens

Wildlife Victoria confirmed that the three cygnets that escaped would be taken into the care of Melbourne Zoo and would eventually be released into the wild.

“The cygnets were brought to Melbourne Zoo for assessment by the veterinary team. The cygnets were uninjured and deemed fit to go to a wildlife carer,” said Elise Doyle from the zoo’s marine response unit.

Maribyrnong Mayor Sarah Carter said the swan deaths were “clearly of concern to our community and council” and committed to patrols of the area and an audit of the signage in the area.

“Council is investigating the latest incident and will prosecute the owner if identified,” she said. “The law states dogs must be on-lead when outside the owner’s property except for designated off-lead areas. The owners of any dog found off-lead in an on-lead area face a fine of $192.”

Dickinson said his group was now going to apply for a grant to get permanent fencing installed in the reserve areas to protect wildlife saying it was “the only way we can protect the wildlife from this randomness”.

“I think having signs is all fine but the ones who don’t care are going to do whatever they feel like because they feel like their dog has complete freedom in society,” he said.

Lisa Palma, the CEO of Wildlife Victoria, said her organisation implored dog-owners to walk their dogs on lead in on-leash areas after it had responded to over 500 cases of dog attacks on wildlife in the state in the past six months alone.

“Here at Wildlife Victoria we love our pets, but it is the responsibility of the pet owner to do the right thing and ensure their pets are under control.”

If you have information about the Footscray attack please contact Maribyrnong Council on (03) 9688 0200. If you see an injured, sick, or orphaned native animal, call Wildlife Victoria’s 24/7 Emergency Response Service on (03) 8400 7300.

Get the day’s breaking news, entertainment ideas and a long read to enjoy. Sign up to receive our Evening Edition newsletter here.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article