A Whole New Breed

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One hopes the Australians are planning ahead here. They need to seriously consider petitioning for an entirely new dog breed designation should this scheme work out. It seems that there has been enormous damage done to a colony of penguins on a small island off the coast. Foxes have been wading or swimming the short distance to have a nice meal of fresh penguin. But the ingenious Aussies have come up with a solution!

The Great Australian Penguin Dog.

Authorities are desperate to prevent the annihilation of a fox-ravaged colony of penguins on Middle Island, off southwest Victoria state, whose numbers have been slashed from 5,000 five years ago to 100 today.

They plan to station a bird-friendly breed of sheepdog on the island, 100 metres offshore, to ward off the predators.

"Over the past four years the population has been absolutely decimated … this is innovation borne of desperation," Craig Whiteford from Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment said of the last-ditch attempt to save the birds.

Predators have been able to walk to the island at low tide and last year a fox was shot while swimming to it, the Australian Associated Press reported.

"If we didn't do anything, they wouldn't last this season," Whiteford said Tuesday, adding that past efforts to fend off foxes — including baiting the pests and fumigating their dens — had come to nothing.

The trial of a maremma sheepdog — a breed that has been used to protect free range chickens from foxes in the past — will begin on November 13.

Maremma sheepdog is obviously false and misleading. I like Great Australian Penguin Dog for the name, but feel free to suggest alternatives in the comment section.

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