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Renewed efforts to protect Phillip Island’s hooded plover population

Phillip Island and wildlife authorities are coming together this summer to protect our native wildlife and educate people about how they can safely share the beach with animals such as hooded plovers and give them the best chance to thrive.

Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Sharing Our Shores campaign, run in partnership with Bass Coast Shire Council and the Conservation Regulator aims to raise awareness about some of our most vulnerable species, including the beach-nesting hooded plover, and how beach visitors can support their survival.

Reserve Manager Ben Thomas says the joint campaign is about sharing the coast safely and helping care for these threatened shorebirds during their breeding season.

“It is a shared community responsibility that we all help safeguard the unique and wonderful wildlife we have on Phillip Island (Millowl) to ensure they are protected,” Mr Thomas said.

Sharing Our Shores is aligning with the Conservation Regulator’s Operation Save Our Hoodies (SoHo), which is educating beachgoers and enforcing rules around hooded plover nesting sites.

Hooded plovers are a tiny, native bird that nests along the high tide line and in sand dunes during spring and summer. Their eggs and chicks are difficult to see and at risk of being trampled or disturbed by beach users and their dogs.

“We encourage all beach users to be mindful of wildlife in the area. Keep to the designated paths and have your dog on a lead, away from signed nesting areas.”

“This campaign is about respecting all beach users, which is why the regulations prohibit dogs between the hours of 10am and 5pm on some beaches.”

Sharing Our Shores runs from 1 December 2023 to 31 March 2024 and involves both patrols by Authorised Officers along the Phillip Island coast and educational posters and signage to create awareness of nesting shorebirds.

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Clare Le Serve, said residents and visitors had an important role to play in supporting local conservation efforts. “Phillip Island is loved by many, and we want everyone to enjoy and respect this special part of the world together,” Mayor Le Serve said.

“I urge dog owners to check local signage and take advice from the rangers and authorised officers who will be doing an important job this summer to help protect local wildlife and ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.”

Hooded plovers are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal to disturb, injure, or destroy them; damage their habitat; or interfere with warning signage.

To offer your support, you may like to adopt a hooded plover through the Penguin Foundation to support the vital conservation work of Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Photo credit: Allison Boehm

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