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Dog ban in place to protect tiny seabirds in P.E.I. National Park

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As shorebirds start returning to the Prince Edward Island National Park, officials say people will to need to keep their dogs off the beach for the next several months.

The plover, a small shorebird, makes its home on the beaches of P.E.I.’s north shore. They’re a species at risk living among the white sand dunes.

The yearly domestic animal ban on park beaches came into effect at the beginning of April.

Park officials say a dog doesn’t need to chase a bird or tear up a nest, as just being on the beach will agitate the birds at an important time in their nesting cycle.

Brackley Beach, P.E.I. (Jack Morse/CTV Atlantic)

“Disruption to their feeding, to their nesting, they’ll be getting off of their nests more often if they see a dog on the beach,” said Lindsey Burke, resource management officer. “Even if they’re on a leash they can still cause that disturbance when they’re in the area.”

The birds are currently in Maine and officials with the P.E.I. National Park tracking their migration expect to start their local monitoring in the middle of April.

The birds are weakened from their long migration north and need time to rest and feed after the arduous journey

“A lot of these birds have just undergone a very long migration,” said Burke. “They’re arriving on our beaches and they need to feed and get their energy back, so a dog running down the beach and disturbing them from feeding is just going to be using up that energy they really need to be conserving right now.”

The ban is lifted in mid-October, after most shorebirds migrate south for the winter.

Dogs are still allowed in the park, as long as they’re on a leash, everywhere expect on the beaches.

Officials say officers will be out, and anyone found on the beach with a dog could get a minimum $100 fine.

For more Prince Edward Island news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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