It's a dog fight over beach exercise area
THE fight over the off-leash dog exercise area on New Brighton beach is turning into – well – a real dog fight.
Byron Shire Council deputy mayor Cr Patrick Morrisey has called on Geraldine Lockyer, president of Brunswick Area Responsible Canine Owners to apologise for “inciting hostility and threatening a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger” at a public meeting of dog owners in Ocean Shores last week.
“I’m concerned at the example being set by the BARCO president, that it’s fair game to threaten rangers for doing their job,” he said.
“It was totally inappropriate behaviour, counter-productive and confirms the need to move the dog exercise area away from the nature reserve.
“If this is what dog owners say in front of a microphone in a public meeting, I can only imagine what the say on the beach when off the record.”
Cr Morrisey said Ms Lockyer had threatened to sue invited NPWS ranger Lori Cameron if Ms Lockyer’s dogs were poisoned by a 1080 bait.
He said other dog owners at the public meeting also had critically questioned the ranger and had misquoted information.
Ms Cameron was a professional park ranger managing Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve from key threatening processes, such as introduced species of weed and animals, and should not be threatened by members of the public, he said.
Cr Morrisey said the BARCO president should be setting an example of responsible pet ownership and behaviour to a room full of dog owners, not setting an example that threatening public servants was appropriate.
“The presence of domestic dogs adjoining Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve is untenable,” he said.
“The exercise area needs to be moved not only to protect native species, but to protect park rangers who are also constantly threatened, not by dogs but by their owners.
“As a councillor observing the meeting, I was concerned at the level of criticism directed at public servants and the meeting confirmed to me the need to clearly separate nature reserves and dogs on beaches for the benefit and public safety of all.”
Ms Lockyer said the NPWS had not made a complaint, but if the ranger was offended by the comment she would unreservedly apologise.
“It was an attempt at humour on my part while chairing a public meeting during which the subject of using 1080 was raised,” she said.
“The 75-plus people that were present and heard it could see the humour in it. It was not a threat to the ranger and there was certainly no hostility in it.
“Cr Morrisey did not raise any concerns during, after or since the meeting to me.
“Now as a third party he is acting through other parties to demand an apology in a bullying and intimidating manner.”
I would have hoped that as a concerned public official he might have acted more directly and openly. What is his real agenda?”
Ms Lockyer said she had explained to the ranger after the meeting what she had meant.
and she had understood “where I was coming from”.
“In the following days the NPWS ranger contacted me about another important matter that I have been able to assist NPWS with,” she said.
“Why is it NPWS and BARCO can work in a constructive way and others can’t?” she said.
Ms Lockyer said she hoped Cr Morrisey wasn’t trying to incite hostility with his demand for an apology on behalf of NPWS.