Australia Deploys Sheepdogs to Save a Penguin Colony

Australia Deploys Sheepdogs to Save a Penguin Colony



Phillip Root with the Maremma sheepdogs of Middle Island, Australia. The dogs were introduced there in 2006 to protect the little penguin, a native species.

Credit David Maurice Smith for The New York Times

“Massacred,” read the banner headline in the local newspaper — just the single word, as if describing an act of war. Below it was a photo of dead penguins and other birds, the latest casualties in Australia’s long history of imported species’ decimating native wildlife.

Foxes killed 180 penguins in that particular episode, in October 2004. But the toll on Middle Island, off Victoria State in southern Australia, kept rising. By 2005, the small island’s penguin population, which had once numbered 800, was below 10.

Today, their numbers are back in the triple digits, and much of the credit has gone to a local chicken farmer known as Swampy Marsh and his strong-willed sheepdogs. Read more.