Animal Management Officer scores dream job

Publish Date : 14 Dec 2023
West Coast AMO (1)
West coast beaches new Animal Control Officer Fletcher Munsterman

It’s a long way from Chicago to Auckland’s west coast but that doesn’t seem to have fazed one Chicagoan.

That’s because when your office is sun, surf, sand, and sky why wouldn’t you be excited about being at work?

Fletcher Munsterman recently began a new role as Animal Management Officer for dog control on Auckland’s west coast beaches.

The position, funded by Auckland Council and the Waitākere Ranges Local Board, will monitor the behaviour of visitors and locals on west coast beaches this summer to make sure they are complying with bylaws when visiting with their pooches.

This is the second year the programme has been run and Chair of the Planning Environment and Parks Committee Councillor Richard Hills says the officer will be service-orientated.

“He will be an ambassador first and enforcer second.

“The emphasis will be on education and aims to focus on building connections amongst the community and providing the public with information relating to dog bylaws and beach etiquette.”

Arriving on New Zealand shores after graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in marine science and biology, Fletcher completed a master’s degree in zoology at the University of Otago before heading to the green pastures of a dairy farm.

Fletcher says he fell in love with the outdoors as a way of connecting to both the environment and the community.

“After so much study, I was ready to join the workforce; being in the outdoors is a relief and I’m excited to get out on the beaches.

“I want to make a difference by bringing my experience and background to my work. My approach is to be the community’s connection to information and answers, and I want to help whoever visits our beaches to enjoy them safely and responsibly without threatening the region’s native or endangered wildlife.”

Fletcher has also worked as a project coordinator and community educator abroad, including two years in rural Ghana with the Peace Corps, and believes this engagement experience will stand him in good stead for this new role.

His patrol will be the beaches from Te Henga/Bethells down to Whatipū and around to Cornwallis, with a focus on protecting local wildlife and ensuring dogs and their owners are compliant with local bylaws and everyone gets to enjoy the outdoors.

Fletcher also has a warning for any potential troublemakers he finds this summer.

“I want to educate and inform people about the wonderful wildlife found along the west coast, but there will be penalties for those who repeatedly break the rules or put protected wildlife at risk.”

If a dog is found in a prohibited area or being walked off lead in an on-lead area, then offender risks being hit with a $300 infringement notice.

“My plan is to operate on a graduated enforcement approach, usually I would issue a warning first but there will be circumstances that would warrant issuing an infringement for a first offence,” adds Fletcher.

So, if you’re out on the west coast beaches over the coming months, keep an eye out for Fletcher as he becomes a familiar face along this stretch of water. Introduce yourself, share a chat and ask him any questions relating to dog behaviour or dog bylaws!

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