Rocky the fox detection dog
Rocky the fox detection dog

Meet the dog protecting Agnes’ turtle nests

A CONSERVATION detector dog has worked tirelessly to detect dozens of fox dens, including around Agnes Water, ensuring hundreds of turtle hatchlings make it safely to the ocean.

The dog named Rocky identified 76 fox dens along the Agnes Water and Woongarra coastline this nesting season, including 46 active dens which were fumigated.

Rocky is part of a feral pest program between the Burnett Mary Regional Group, the Department of Environment and Science and the Gidarjil Indigenous Rangers.

"Rocky is a six-year-old springer spaniel and has been specially trained to detect fox dens by their scent in the bush and in the coastal environment," Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said.

"Foxes are an introduced pest and as predators they are a major threat to endangered marine turtles as they dig up clutches to feed on the incubating turtle eggs and prey on hatchlings."

The program is supported by the $7 million Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program, a joint State and Federal Government initiative.

Rocky's handler Tom Garrett said the dog had been detecting fox dens since 2014.

"It's absolutely terrible that we've got pests like foxes that are feeding on turtle nests or hatchlings on their way to the ocean. Some fox dens can be about 15 to 20 metres long, well hidden by vegetation and easily missed by people," he said.

Nest to Ocean fast facts:

•Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program is designed to reduce predation of endangered and vulnerable marine turtle clutches and hatchlings at priority nesting beaches along Queensland

•$7 million in Federal and State funding has been approved for a number of turtle conservation projects until June 2020

•Since commencement of the program in 2014, more than 20,000 turtle nests have been monitored by Nest to Ocean Turtle Protection Program grant recipients

•As a result of the predator control activities and direct nest protection, more than 95% of nests have been protected and survived

•It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million hatchlings have been protected since the inception of the program.

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