Don’t let your dogs chase the birds on our beaches


Posted by on Thu, October 22, 2009

The Chronicle’s website recently published the following letter form Coastsider Barbara Kossy about the effects of dogs chasing birds on our beaches:

As a dog lover and wild bird lover, I’m amazed at how dog owners allow and encourage their dogs to chase wild shorebirds.

It’s a growing, daily problem here on the Coastside. Dog owners from throughout the Bay Area come to the Coastside to let their dogs play and run on the beaches. Many dogs chase and flush birds. This is lots of fun for everyone, except the wild birds who need to feed on the beaches.

Fall migration is just beginning and shorebirds and ducks are stopping on our beaches to rest and eat before continuing on to wintering grounds hundreds and even thousands of miles away. Some species spend the winter right here in the Bay Area.

Perhaps dog owners could take a moment to imagine getting to northern Alaska on their own power, walking, or swimming, or kayaking—twice a year—then they may be able to appreciate why dogs should be kept away from birds. Would they like to be chased by a huge predator (think Tyrannosaurus Rex) every time they tried to sit down and get a bite to eat? Migration requires a huge energy output, and these birds don’t have energy to spare. "Many dog owners simply don’t realize the harm caused by a brief chase. After all, the bird flies away. But they also don’t realize that the chase takes the bird away from the important business of feeding, and resting, and may literally sink the bird already stressed by fatigue.

Could you please remind dog owners to protect the wild birds that live on our beaches?

Comment 1
Tue, October 27, 2009 2:06pm
Gary Deghi
All my comments

I have worked in environmental consulting for over 30 years, and back in the 1980s I managed the preparation of the East Harbor Master Plan EIR for the San Mateo County Harbor District. The Master Plan included the construction of the boat launch ramp now enjoyed by many, and which impacted a small area of intertidal habitat and beach.  Mitigation was provided for this by expanding the intertidal area and habitat for western snowy plovers (now a federally-listed threatened species) near the base of the jetty at the northwest corner of the harbor.  The snowy plovers have historically wintered in this area, though not so much in recent years.  Part of the mitigation program implemented by the District was to ensure that dogs were kept on leash in this part of the harbor, in the area between what is now called the Maverick’s parking lot near the Pillar Point Marsh and the area of the jetty in the northwest part of the harbor.  Signs were installed about 20 years ago as required by the CEQA review reminding dog-owners to keep their dogs on leash in this area to protect wildlife.  Last time I checked, the signs were still there but are now barely noticeable, and are constantly ignored and not being enforced.  Maybe this is why the snowy plovers abandoned this site, even with the efforts by the Harbor District to improve the habitat as mitigation required by state law.  Dogs are supposed to be on a leash in this part of the harbor; the Harbor District should be enforcing this.