To help protect local shorebirds and their precious chicks, Byron Shire Council is calling on all dog owners to keep their dogs strictly within the designated dog off-lead areas on Byron Shire beaches at all times of the day and night, or face hefty fines.
‘We have generous off-lead areas on a number of Byron Shire beaches and very good reasons for asking dog owners to keep their dogs within the signed areas,’ Byron Shire Council’s Manager Public and Environmental Services, Sarah Nagel said.
‘At the end of winter each year and into spring, the shire’s endangered shorebirds are busy breeding and creating nests for their new chicks and this happens in the areas where they have space and freedom to move without being disturbed by dogs.
‘Even the smallest, gentlest dog who takes a run beyond the dog off-lead areas can disturb ground nesting birds, and this can unfortunately result in these birds losing their chicks – a tragedy we need to do everything we can to avoid,’ Ms Nagel explained.
Biodiversity a magnet
Council’s Biodiversity Team Leader, Liz Caddick said Byron Shire’s rich biodiversity is what attracts the endangered shorebird visits during breeding and nesting season.
Some of the birds you might be lucky enough to see here include the Pied Oystercatcher, Sooty Oystercatcher, Red-capped plover, Bush Stone-curlew and Beach Stone-curlew.
‘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,’ said Ms Caddick.
‘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.’
Take dog responsibility seriously
Liz Caddick says it’s a privilege to be able to exercise dogs off lead on the beautiful Byron Shire beaches.
‘In other Council areas you can only have your dog on a lead on the beach, or not at all,’ she said. ‘I think it’s critical all dog owners take responsibility for their dogs seriously and respect the reasons we have designated areas – and that’s to care for all of the wildlife who call our beaches home and need them to survive.’
Council rangers are continuing their increased presence across Byron Shire beaches and dog on-lead and off-lead areas.
You can find out more about areas you can exercise your dog off-lead, as well as areas where dogs are banned, on Byron Shire Council’s website.