We recently made the decision to remove a question from our Stage 2 Draft policy survey on the draft Dog Management Policy which asks whether people support dogs being on lead in bushland/nature reserve areas.
Why the question was removed
The decision to remove the question was made due to their being a false premise that there are current reserve activity plans endorsed by council that recommend dogs be on-lead in the relevant reserve. This has led to some confusion around how council formed this position and that this position (dogs on-lead) was not specifically tested with the public during the development of the RAPs, apart from Single Hill bushland reserve. Similarly, none of the RAPs apart from Single Hill recommended that dogs be on-lead.
What happens next
All feedback received from members of the community before the removal of this question will be compiled and considered by Aldermen.
Once the consultation closes Aldermen will review the feedback received from the survey as well as any emails or letters received.
Aldermen have been made aware of situation leading up to the removal of the question and will factor it in to their decision making moving forward.
This is still a draft policy and everything, other than the fee schedule, is still under review. A report will be submitted to a council meeting for a decision on this matter which may include further consultation on particular issues of the policy.
Anybody wishing to make further representation about the entire policy or the on-lead in reserves recommendation can fill out another survey with their feedback or provide further input via an email submission via email@example.com.
Why bushland/nature reserves have been recommended to be on-lead
The reasons for proposing that bushland reserves should become on-lead areas are primarily based on the following advice from council’s environmental sustainability team who are responsible for the development and implementation of Reserve Activity Plans (RAPs).
Reverting to the primary position of dogs on lead in council’s bushland and coastal reserves was suggested to reduce the impacts on threatened native fauna e.g.bandicoots and flora as well as more common wildlife such as wallabies and pademelons. Our bushland and coastal reserves provide valuable habitat and refuge to an array of wildlife and native plants including many rare and threatened species protected under the Threatened Species Protection Act (1995). It is our responsibility to manage the threats to these values through planning, regulation, and management. Recreation activities including the walking of dogs needs to be managed in a way so that it does not impact on the biodiversity of the bushland and coastal reserves.
The past year has seen a significant increase in the amount of people using councils tracks along the foreshore and in council’s parks and reserves for riding, walking and dog walking and the increased usage has led to council having to develop new management strategies to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all. Specifically, data collected on the foreshore trails, along with feedback from rangers and council staff, has informed officer’s views on increased usage of tracks and trails across the entire city over the last 12 months.
Council’s Bushland and Coastal Reserves are managed in accordance with the Clarence Bushland and Coastal Strategy and their Reserve Activity Plans with the primary objective to conserve the natural assets that they contain.
It is well understood that despite the nature of the dog, their presence in a natural area can be very disruptive to local wildlife. Impacts include physical and temporal displacement, disturbance to feeding and routines, stress, and indirect and direct mortality. When a dog is off-track and off-lead they cover more area so their disruption to the wildlife is greater than if they are contained to formal tracks and kept on lead.
The recommendation for dogs to move to on-lead in bushland and coastal reserves is consistent with policy of other land managers of natural areas such as Wellington Park Management Trust, and state agencies e.g. Parks and Wildlife.