Little terns attacked at Sawtell

The Coffs Coast has two colonies of little terns which are struggling to survive.
The Coffs Coast has two colonies of little terns which are struggling to survive.

A SPATE of irresponsible and illegal behaviour in recent weeks has forced authorities to step-up patrols at little tern breeding colonies in Bongil Bongil National Park and at Hearnes Lake.

Following the attempted theft of the entire clutch of little tern eggs at Sawtell recently, National Parks and Wildlife Service Coffs Coast area manager Glenn Storrie said officers would be undertaking additional patrols.

Mr Storrie said it had also been disappointing to see the number of people taking dogs into the little tern breeding compound on Bongil Spit, south of Sawtell Headland.

“The locations where the little terns are nesting are clearly signposted and dogs are prohibited from entering national parks at all times due to the threat they pose to native animals,” Mr Storrie said.

“People who visit Bonville Creek at Sawtell for a swim or walk are reminded that the national park extends to the high water mark on the north bank of the creek.

“All the sand islands that are exposed at low tides are part of the national park. Bongil Bongil National Park has been there for 15 years and claiming you were not aware of park regulations, despite the signs, is no excuse.”

Mr Storrie said taking domestic dogs into the close vicinity of an endangered shore bird breeding colony was seen as a particularly serious offence and if a dog was found to have harmed an endangered native animal, the law allowed for an immediate fine of $1500 and people found with dogs within the national park could expect an on-the-spot fine of $300.

He said NPWS service staff would be more visible after-hours in the vicinity of the colonies.

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