At the bottom of this post I have copied in quite an extensive reply to our submissions about dogs off- or on-leash at Mt Rogers reserve.
I put in several submissions, with each having a different supporting OFF-LEASH point as its focus. At one point 95% of received submissions were from the Mt Rogers community. This is an incredible show of support for Mt Rogers & reflects the depths of our commitment to the reserve and each other.
I notice that this acknowledgement of submissions is copied to the politicians, though I reminded Helen that Yvette Berry also supported our community.
What a pity this evidence supporting their reasoning wasn't supplied earlier in the process.
First, though, here are some other recent observations and facts relating to Mt Rogers, and the 'dogs' issue.
In the course of compiling my submissions I contacted Ric Longmore OAM who agreed that reptiles are occasionally taken by dogs but that people who illegally take reptiles are problematic.
Don Fletcher mentioned that disturbed kangaroos can be scared away from optimal grazing areas and food by off-leash dogs and suffer fatal malnutrition. Mt Rogers’ resident mob always seem calm to me. They graze throughout the reserve and, if chased, successfully confuse dogs by scattering in different directions.
John Feehan said specific dung beetles could be introduced to bury dog faeces but foxes prey on these beetles.
Superb parrots are not affected by dogs’ presence or the proximity of people other than to fly up to trees if a threat is perceived.
The Speckled Warbler population appears to have remained constant since they were first noticed. It would be good if these ground-nesting birds’ population grew but the 60 ha size of and habitats on Mt Rogers might be limiting factors.
Throughout all this we have had many wonderful wintry but sunny days on which to enjoy the reserve. Damon of Ginninderra Catchment Group helped digitally map the high and medium conservation areas in Mt Rogers reserve. We also mapped where the infestations of Serrated Tussock and Chilean Needle Grass were located. In winter when the wild oats and feral grasses are “submissive” the extent of the best native vegetation seems to be increasing especially where the grasses are concerned.
In recent months we have discovered, with i.d. help from the Botanic Gardens botanists, that one of the Rock ferns is likely to be a separate species. The differences amongst the three species, which are known to hybridise, are subtle but Cheilanthes distans has a more ‘hairy’ appearance along stems and the ‘leaves’.
Scarlet robins are listed as “vulnerable” in NSW as a result of habitat clearing and loss but “our” Mt Rogers pairs seem just as laid-back as ever. They are far too intent on feeding to worry about intrusions. Twice in the last week I’ve been delighted to watch Speckled Warblers searching the ground for insects where the grass is short & there are shrubs and low trees to retreat into. About a month ago I was in Jacob place and saw a Wedge-tailed eagle flying high over Mt Rogers. I took this as a good omen. It was certainly a majestic and momentous sight.
Let’s hope the next Newsletter can be more normal and not preceded by so many anxieties. Between us we have contributed scores of thoughtful, logical and reasoned submissions. Our informal but supportive community has shown the way forward…..working together to resolve issues for Mt Rogers and its communities. Congratulations many times over.
Now, below is the reply to our submissions about dogs off- or on-leash at Mt Rogers reserve.
Rosemary. Convenor, Mt Rogers Landcare Group 24.07.14.
Begin forwarded message:
From: communityengagement <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 22 July 2014 9:36:25 AM AEST
Cc: RATTENBURY <RATTENBURY@act.gov.au>, <PORTER@Parliament.act.gov.au>, COE@parliament.act.gov.au>, "<email@example.com>" "firstname.lastname@example.org"
Subject: Mount Rogers update
Thank you for your recent submission on the review of dog exercise areas.
The ACT Government consulted its ecologists within the Environment and Planning Directorate while developing the proposed changes to dog maps for community input.
The ecologists recommended changes to some areas, including Mount Rogers, due to documented evidence suggesting roaming dogs can have an adverse impact on woodland birds. For example, Banks and Bryant (2007) manipulated dog walking at 90 sites in woodland on the urban fringe of Sydney, and observed the responses by birds. They used three treatments: walkers with dogs, walkers without dogs and a control (no walkers or dogs), and then counted birds seen and heard along 250 metre transects for 10 minutes after treatments were applied. They found that dog walking in woodland leads to a 35% reduction in bird diversity and 41% reduction in abundance.
The reaction of birds to dogs, and to a lesser extent people, is the expected result from a large amount of research on predator-prey interactions that have been summarised by Preisser and others (2005). Animals may change their behaviour to their detriment in response to their perceived risk of predation. For example, an animal that perceives a high risk of predation will not stray far from cover, thus limiting foraging and available food resources. Reduced nutrition may impact on the rate of mortality and the number of young that can be successfully raised. These non-lethal effects of predation are considered to be at least as great as the lethal effects.
Mount Rogers is, at certain times, an important feeding area of the nationally threatened Superb Parrot and supports a probable breeding population of the Speckled Warbler, a bird declining in the region and listed as threatened in NSW. There are also records of other threatened bird species such as the White-winged Triller and Varied Sitella utilising Mount Rogers, but they have not been sighted in recent years.
Due to the extensive feedback and knowledge conveyed through the public consultation process to date, the ACT Government may not proceed with the proposal to turn Mount Rogers into an on-leash area. Work will take place with local bird enthusiasts to help better understand the particular birds that use Mount Rogers and consider the range of options to reduce the impacts of dogs in the area.
We thank everyone for the comments they have provided so far and encourage those who wish to discuss proposed dog maps further to attend the information session to be held at Mount Rogers (Wickens Place) from 2 pm to 3.30 pm on Saturday 26 July.
1 Banks and Bryant (2007), Four-legged friend or foe? Dog walking displaces native birds from natural areas, Biology Letters 3, 611-613.
2 Preisser E. L, Bolnick D.I. and Benard M. F. (2005), Scared to death? The effects of intimidation and consumption in predator-prey interactions, Ecology 86(2) pp. 501-509 Kind regards, Helen
Helen Gombar-Millynn | Community Engagement Officer |
Phone 02 6205 3696 | Fax 02 6207 6148 |
Governance | Territory and Municipal Services Directorate | ACT Government
12 Wattle Street Lyneham ACT 2602 | GPO Box 158 Canberra ACT 2601