Monday, October 5, 2009

Dogs Chasing Shorebirds

Specifically on the West Coast, but we've seen that East Coast dog owners are no better behaved. A letter to the president of a local humane society posted on a Yahoo group:
Hi Ken.

Thanks for your thoughtful post in on human nature and animals.

Along those lines, 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?

And a comment:
Granted - well composed, civil letter - but "could you please remind dog owners" --- etc, etc, etc, has been done, done, done - ad nauseam, and the offending dog owners really, really, really don't care. A few weeks ago I went to Crissy Field to watch a sail boat race and if anything, it is worse than ever. It is now an unambiguous, single purpose park - for off leash dogs. The only purpose for shore birds in this National Park is for dogs to chase.

All sounds very familiar.

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