The Middle Island Maremma Project is a unique environmental program that uses a special breed of Maremma dogs to protect birds and penguins from fox and dog predation. The Maremma breed has been used in Italy for centuries to protect domestic animals, but wild birds were a new challenge.
A local chicken farmer, Swampy Marsh, suggested Maremma guardian dogs could be used to protect the penguins. Swampy had successfully used Maremma's to help protect his free range chickens.
In a world-first, Maremma dogs were trained and placed on Middle Island to protect the penguins from foxes during the breeding season. The project has been a huge success, with no evidence of fox attacks since the beginning of the Project and a steady increase in penguin colony size to an estimated 180 penguins in 2013.
Visitors can take part in tours to the island over the summer period and even meet the Maremma. Where and when you can meet the Maremma’s will depend upon the time of the year, with the dogs sometimes living in Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village.
In September 2015, the movie Oddball was release, documenting the Maremma’s adventures on Middle Island. Check out the preview below.