FRASER COAST residents are being urged to be responsible pet owners and only walk their dogs on designated beaches.
The call comes after about 20 turtle hatchlings were killed by two dogs at a Point Vernon beach last week.
Fraser Coast Division 6 Councillor David Lewis said the turtles were killed because the dogs’ owners allegedly let them roam free while they went for a swim.
Cr Lewis said a resident managed to save around 40 hatchlings by ushering them to the water but was unable to catch the dogs.
“Dogs are prohibited from that stretch of beach because it is a turtle nesting area,” Cr Lewis explained.
He said Council was investigating the incident and following up with the resident.
“I urge pet owners to do the right thing and be responsible – only walk your pets on designated beaches. The beach entrances are signposted to alert people if dogs are prohibited, allowed on leash or off-leash,” Cr Lewis said.
He told reporters residents were privileged to have turtles nesting on local beaches but stressed the importance of respecting and protecting the region’s natural wildlife.
Maps outlining the designation of the beaches and fenced off-leash areas are also available on the Council website.
Cr Lewis stressed that people must still control their dogs even when they are using off-leash beaches.
“You cannot just unleash your dog and let it roam. Owners need to be close enough to give voice commands and control their pets; not 100m away swimming or talking.”
While suggesting there might be a need for extra signage, Cr Lewis said it was important people were educated about where they can and can’t walk their dogs and why.
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Lesley Bradley is a volunteer with Queensland Turtle Research and Conservation.
She said it was disappointing to hear the turtles had been killed.
“Volunteers work really hard to get as many hatchlings into the ocean as possible. Just one in a thousand will return to the beach as adults,” she said.
She said loggerhead turtles, classified as a vulnerable species, were the only turtles that nested in the area where the hatchlings were killed.
“Pet owners need to do the right thing and only walk their dogs where they are allowed to do so,” she said.
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Meanwhile, Council is also asking residents to help identify vandals who spray painted 22 beach access signs along the foreshore from the Scarness jetty to the eastern side of the Hervey Bay Surf Club in Torquay.
CCTV footage is being viewed and the incident has been reported to police.
“The vandalism will cost all ratepayers as new signs will have to be ordered and the damaged ones replaced,” explains Cr Lewis.
Despite the damage, he said it was still possible to read the signs.