The ACT government will install CCTV cameras around the Belconnen Owl after it spent $3050 in the past year removing graffiti from it.
The eight-metre tall fibreglass owl was placed on the corner of Belconnen and Benjamin Ways in 2011 as a nod to the powerful owl, which has occasionally been spotted in the National Botanic Gardens and Namadgi National Park.
However the phallic sculpture has often been targeted by immature vandals.
An ACT government spokeswoman said it was "disappointing for the Belconnen and wider community that people have chosen to damage this public asset".
"The ACT government is committed to preventing graffiti in our community. Permanent video surveillance will be installed in the area to deter more acts of vandalism," she said.
The government spent more than $70,000 from July 2016 to May 2017 on both routine and unplanned maintenance to Canberra's public artworks.
It last year hired a graffiti management coordinator to stop illegal tagging and other graffiti.
Twenty-five sites are now managed with "legal graffiti", the government spokeswoman said, and the coordinator was working with businesses, residents and local artists to identify more sites.
Belconnen Community Council's Glen Hyde hoped the cameras would deter vandals in the town centre in general, not just those who wanted to deface the owl.
He believed in spite of the often unfavourable comparisons, he did not believe the Belconnen Owl was a bigger target for graffiti than other works of public art.
He was surprised however the bill for the graffiti clean-up on the owl was not "significantly more".
"Certainly as with most other iconic art forms the ACT government purchased and installed, each have their moments where they're being targeted but I don't think the owl is targeted than other artwork around Canberra," Mr Hyde said.
However a government spokeswoman said about half the money spent on graffiti removal on public artworks in 2016-17 was on the owl. More than $3000 was spent on cleaning graffiti from another six artworks in the same period.
Mr Hyde said the problem of graffiti in Canberra probably reflected a level of boredom although he did not think it was a youth issue.
"I've seen people in their 30s and 40s graffiti-ing in Civic," Mr Hyde said.
"Not particularly relating to owl, certainly for some of the vandalism that's occurred more generally in town centre [CCTV] is definitely overdue.
"Mainly unscripted graffiti around town centre, the usual use of shopping trolleys and other readily portable objects crashed into vehicles park streets and shop fronts. It's not a great amount of damage but inconvenience that draws the ire of shopowners."
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