Byron Council is calling on dog owners to keep their dogs strictly within designated dog off-lead areas on local beaches to help protect endangered shorebirds which are currently breeding.
As the region moves into an early spring, bird species such as the pied oystercatcher, red-capped plover, and beach stone-curlew have been busily breeding and nest-building across the Shire.
‘If a mother bird has to stay off the nest for a long time, defending it from dogs or other animals she thinks are a threat, the chick will either starve or die from overheating in the sun,’ Council’s Biodiversity Team Leader, Liz Caddick said.
‘It might sound bleak, but this is why Council is urging everyone to be aware of the nesting shorebirds and to steer clear of them during the breeding and nesting season.
‘This includes from dusk to dawn, when most beaches are quite empty, which is such an important time for native wildlife.’
Council is determined to show that it has bite as well as bark this year, warning that those who allow their dogs to roam free will face hefty fines.
Earlier this year councillors voted to increase its compliance operations, allocating an extra $250,000 from its already overstretched budget to hire two new compliance officers and buy a new vehicle.
Policing breaches in relation to dogs is one of the key compliance areas being targeted by Council, along with unauthorised camping.