Tiny detail in sand fuels 'horrendous' theory on Aussie beach

Byron Bay resident Maxine Hawker is pleading with dog owners following the disturbing discovery of two mauled wallabies.

A Byron Bay resident is urging "oblivious" pet owners to keep a closer eye on their dogs after a second wallaby was "mauled" at a local beach in the last week.

Locals have been subjected to the "distressing" aftermath at Sunrise beach — also known locally as North Beach in the popular NSW coastal town — with another lifeless and bloodstained animal found on the sand on Saturday.

"It's horrendous because you know it's died a really ugly, painful death," local Maxine Hawker told Yahoo News Australia. "It's also a dog-free beach, there's heaps of signage... There's a dog beach really close by which is annoying."

The wallaby 'maulings' continue with a local holding a deceased animal on Sunday (left) and again on Saturday in Byron Bay(right).
The wallaby 'maulings' continue at Sunrise Beach in Byron Bay, with two dead within the last week. Source: Maxine Hawker

Community divided over cause of wallaby deaths

It has been a contentious topic in the local area with many divided over the wallabies' cause of death. Ms Hawker — who found and buried the first wallaby last Sunday — said the deaths are "undoubtedly" dog-related.

"Their throat are ripped out. And there was clearly a struggle, like big stripes and blood all around it, we can see dog paw prints [in the sand]."

Left, 'Dogs prohibited' sign at beach. Right, Maxine's foot can be seen in the sand beside the dog print.
Dogs are frequently spotted on the beach despite 'heaps' of signage prohibiting them from the area. Source: Maxine Hawker

There were no witnesses for either wallaby death and it has been suggested wild dogs could be at fault, however Ms Hawker believes most pet owners are genuinely in "denial" about the harm domesticated dogs can inflict on wildlife.

"Dogs are only doing what's natural to them, but the laws have to be imposed because I think a fine is the only language they will listen to," she said.

Dog owners cop 'hefty' fine if pet caught attacking wildlife

In NSW dog owners can be charged as much as $11,000 if their pet attacks or harasses an animal, with up to $22,000 charged if offenders encourage their pet to attack another animal.

"Council have to enforce the law — the law is there for a reason. And if people started getting fined, because they really are hefty fines, I'm sure that will change behaviour."

"Dogs have got owners, whereas the wildlife has got no one... we need to protect them."

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