On Sunday we didn't get off the boat for our family walk until 9:30, so we headed for the Boronia Beach track - an old favourite just down the Derwent Estuary from Hobart, and short enough for a two-year-old to walk before lunchtime.
Boronia Beach is a wildlife reserve - it's fenced off to keep dogs and cats away from the little penguins that nest here. And there's a big "no dogs allowed" sign on the gate.
But - you can guess where this is going from the title - we found the beach covered in dog tracks, and the carcass of a penguin.
The penguin had been bitten in the neck and body.
This unfortunately, isn't an isolated occurrence - we used to have a housesit near another beach in the area that is supposed to be dog-free to protect nesting penguins, but I would see dogs on that beach more often than not on my daily walk there.
Well, what to say - this isn't a soapbox, but I did used to work as an ornithologist, and I'm acutely aware of how much damage pets do to wildlife - they commonly destroy entire bird populations. And Australian marsupials also suffer incredibly from pets.
(Cats are really really bad when it comes to bird conservation - you can't get an ornithologist to be polite when it comes to cats. And I guess that includes me. Anyone who lets their cat roam outside is failing a moral test. I just re-read a post by some travelling yachties about the various animals their cat brought back to their docked boat in New Zealand every night. My blood boiled. I'm not linking to the post because, in spite of being complete idiots in this instance, they generally seem to be quite nice folks.)
But, back to this instance at Boronia. Either the gate was left open, and free-range dogs got in, or owners took them in on purpose. Either way, bad news for the penguins.
OK, off the soap box.
Now - comic relief.
Turns out the Boronia Beach track was a little too long for a particular two-year-old: