Off the Leash Off the Leash

Sheepdogs guard endangered penguins

The two dogs are credited with keeping dangerous prey at bay.

By Vetstreet Jun 4, 2013 3:19PM

Seven years ago, a pair of Maremma sheepdogs got a new assignment: to keep invasive red foxes away from endangered Little Penguins on Australia’s Middle Island. And it’s working.

Photo: Two Maremma sheepdogs have helped keep foxes from endangered penguins on an Australian island. / Middle Island Maremma ProjectSince 2006, the population of the world’s smallest penguin species has skyrocketed from 10 to 200.

According to a report by the Nature Glenelg Trust, which monitors the project, no foxes have killed penguins during that time.

The dogs, which were bred to guard against wolves in Italy, scared the baby penguins at first when they tried to herd them back to their nests — but that behavior was quickly changed.

— Read it at Live Science

More from Vetstreet:
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Photo: Two Maremma sheepdogs have helped keep foxes from endangered penguins on an Australian island. / Middle Island Maremma Project

Feb 5, 2014 3:50PM
I have been finding a lot of good information on living. I need to find more about animals here. Does anyone have an article on vets that I could read?

William | http://adparkpet.com/
Jun 7, 2013 10:34PM
 What they need now is specially trained dogs to hunt down rhino poachers in Africa. They could have transmitter collars on them so if there was any danger, the  dogs would bark and send a message to park rangers. It could work.
My Saint Bernard would be cuddled up with the penguins as well as the foxes. Him and my Persian are inseparable. Many people and animals are intimidated by the size of a dog alone. 
Jun 4, 2013 6:29PM

As a citizen of the west, I have to say that guarding against wolves and guarding against foxes are two very different things. One or two dogs are useless against wolves who outweigh the dogs and are more likely in a pack. Not only that, wolves will track down dogs just to kill them. Call Fish & Game and ask. They will tell you.


However, for this situation, I think the dog idea is great! For very little cost you have increased the population of these fairy penguins. Of course, there are always those that don't care if a species goes extinct or just want to shoot and kill to solve things. Way to go for an innovative solution.

Jun 4, 2013 6:11PM
If the red foxes are invasive species, the real answer is to kill or relocate the foxes. All this is doing is insuring that the foxes are eating and decimating some other native species. This is not an effective long term answer. It's a typical band-aide on a bleeding artery.
Jun 4, 2013 5:48PM
Isn't that against everything Batman stands for.
Jun 4, 2013 5:40PM

I'm glad we're finally taking endangered species seriously. This sounds like a great idea that is working.


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