THERE are calls for Middle Island to be “out of bounds” for public tours after there were more than 20 incidences of trespassers.
Despite the deaths discovered on Wednesday, the Middle Island penguin project has been hugely successful over the past 10 years, a Warrnambool City Council report shows.
However, there are still issues with intruders accessing the area.
Chief executive officer Bruce Anson said the project continued to be high profile and received strong community support.
There was 20 incidents of unauthorised access reported this season, compared to one intruder last season. A council report said the reason for the spike in unauthorised visits was not known, however tidal conditions provided “relatively easy access to the island during the peak summer period”.
Cr Sue Cassidy said the project had been a “great success story” for the city.
“Moving forward though, we do need to look at how we can stop people trespassing on to the island,” she said.
Cr David Owen said it should be a protected site.
“That island should be out of bounds,” he said. “There shouldn’t be any people allowed on it at all as far as I’m concerned.”
Seventy tours were conducted during summer, with 1253 people visiting the island.
The total income from tour ticket sales was $19,047. Mr Anson said all four dogs in the project were being assessed for ongoing suitability in their roles.
Councillor Mike Neoh thanked the volunteers involved with the project.
“We have had a number of stakeholders involved with the project, but I think its the volunteers that have made it,” he said.