Tireless Victorian nature advocate Steve Karakitsos has started a campaign to ban unleashed dogs from Mornington Peninsula National Park.

With fewer than 600 hooded plovers left in the state, the endangered species, which inhabits sandy beaches, has come under increasing attack by dogs running amok.

“The Mornington park is the only national park in Australia that didn’t enforce the dog ban even though it was declared a national park in 1988,” says Mr Karakitsos,

“A dog ban throughout the Mornington Peninsula is being fought over 20 years to safeguard the future of the threatened species.”

“Additional leash-free zones to accommodate the needs of dog walkers is also being sought from local government as part of an effective solution,” he adds.

According to an investigation by BirdLife Australia commissioned by Parks Victoria, dogs have been identified as the principal cause of the hooded plovers’ diminishing numbers

“If anything, this highlights the importance of imposing a complete dog ban within the Mornington Peninsula National Park,” stresses Karakitsos.

“Given the nature and urgency of the protection of what amounts to less than 600 threatened birds, Environment Minister Lisa Neville’s swift response in her role as protector of the environment is required.”

Apart from the site in Rye intended to be added to the repertoire of leash-free zones in the area, the St Andrews Beach Recreation Centre is also unofficially used by locals.