'Frantic' paw prints on 'beautiful' tourist beach lead to woman's grim discovery

A northern NSW woman is at her wit's end over the attacks on the region's wildlife.

WARNING — DISTRESSING DETAILS: A NSW woman has no doubt pet dogs are responsible for a series of disturbing finds on a beach south of Coffs Harbour that locals describe as “a beautiful part of the world”. The grim discoveries reveal a situation that's far from the idyllic image the popular tourist region tries to project.

“There were fresh blood globules stuck to the sand, but also frantic dog prints all around,” the WIRES rescuer said.

Tina Birtles told Yahoo News Australia drag marks in the sand led to the corpse of a wallaby joey at a beach in Nambucca Heads where dogs are banned. Disturbingly the innards had been torn out and the animal was almost split in half “The only thing holding him together was the fur on his belly — it was horrific,” she said.

Looking back from the water to the forest that surrounds the beach. Part of a campervan can be seen in the distance.
The dead wallaby was found at a Nambucca Heads beach that is popular with travellers. Source: Supplied

That find was on June 15, but just weeks earlier rescuers found an adult on the same beach. Due to the extraordinarily gruesome nature of that particular attack, Yahoo has opted not to publish pictures of it.

Dogs suspected in deaths of platypus and wallabies

They're not the only mutilated animal corpses Tina has seen over the last 60 days. A platypus was also found dead near the Never Never River with indications it was the victim of a dog attack.

She is at her wit’s end. Other locals have told her the carnage inflicted on native wildlife by roaming dogs and cats is so disturbing that they can’t join her in volunteering for the charity. “It’s almost criminal that this killing continues to go on,” she said.

Left - dog prints in the sand. Right - the dead wallaby joey on the beach. Drag marks to its left.
Frenzied dog prints and drag marks were found around the wallaby on a beach where dogs are not permitted. Source: Supplied

But it’s not just individual animals that are suffering from the presence of dogs — the Never Never River itself is also suffering. In January, council urged travellers to stay away after high levels of faecal residue were found in the river — people not cleaning up after their pets likely contributed to the situation.

Cats killing 323 million native animals a year

Cats are another issue impacting the once plentiful wildlife that has called the wider Coffs Harbour region home. “We have cats bringing in gliders, possums, antechinus all the time — it’s a constant battle,” she said.

A dead platypus on its back on the grass.
Wildlife rescuers suspect dogs were responsible for the death of the platypus this year. Source: WIRES

But it’s not just this area that irresponsible cat owners are destroying by allowing their pets to roam. On June 9, an Invasive Species Council (ISC) report concluded an estimated 323 million native animals are killed every year by the creatures.

While NSW councils generally allow cats to stalk the streets unsupervised, it’s not the case interstate. In the ACT, containment laws prohibit all cats born after July 1, 2022 from roaming in public areas. Further south in Victoria, almost 50 per cent of Victorian councils enforce curfews.

"We have an archaic situation in New South Wales and Western Australia where local governments cannot implement basic cat curfew laws due to barriers in the state legislation," the ISC’s Candice Bartlett told Yahoo when the report was released.

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