Point Impossible Shorebird Protection Zone Trial

Point Impossible Shorebird Protection Zone Trial

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, with support from Surf Coast Shire, will pilot an on-lead dog zone starting this summer at Point Impossible and is seeking feedback and input from the local community.  The one year trial aims to protect wildlife including shorebirds from the impacts of dogs off leash.

Commencing 1 December 2017, the results of the pilot project will be incorporated in the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s Coastal Management Plan review in 2018.

Map of the area

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Coastal Reserves Manager Caleb Hurrell said the trial will focus on education and monitoring.

”We are asking all dog owners to keep their dogs on a lead between Thompsons Creek at Point Impossible and Point Impossible Nude Beach Carpark.  We are also asking horse-riders, who are allowed to ride in this area with a permit, to stay well below the high tide mark.  Existing D1 off lead areas will not be affected.”

“We all have to share our beaches with other beach users,” said Mr Hurrell.  “Our intention is to collect information on the impacts of dogs and horses plus community attitudes, ahead of a formal review as part of the upcoming Coastal Management Plan.”

Great Ocean Road Coast welcomes feedback on the pilot project and will monitor the impacts throughout the trial period.

“We will work with Surf Coast Shire compliance staff and volunteers from Birdlife Australia’s Friends of the Hooded Plover, CoastCare, Surf Coast and Torquay Coast Action to implement the pilot program,” said Mr Hurrell.  “Deakin University will be assisting with the trial.”

The one year trial follows a community petition earlier this year calling for the protection of this critical shorebird site at Point Impossible that is important to migratory shorebirds from around the world as well as to our own nesting Hooded Plovers, a highly threatened species.

Dr Grainne Maguire said BirdLife Australia welcomed the trial at Point Impossible and encouraged community feedback.

“Unleashed dogs are a major threat to shorebirds that have flown tens of thousands of kilometres to feed on our shores, and to threatened Hooded Plover chicks.  Off leash dogs have been identified as one of the leading causes of chick mortality.  Only last year, a chick’s body was hidden in a rubbish bin at the nearby 13th beach after being mauled by an off-leash dog. Our research has also shown that Hooded Plovers are twice as likely to stay on the nest if a dog is on a lead while unleashed dogs cause parents to abandon the nest in over 50% of encounters. Co-existence is possible.”

Q and As

Q: After 20 years of no controls why change now?

A:  We are taking a voluntary, education-based approach to the pilot.  Increasing visitor numbers have created great pressure on native animals and plants.  We are actively managing this to improve the poor survival rates of shorebirds in particular.  We are seeking to strike a balance between visitor behaviour and conservation efforts.

Q: My dog is not aggressive why should I keep it on a leash?

A: Regardless of individual dogs their uncontrolled presence disturbs sensitive nesting areas. Approaching birds on nests causes the nest to be abandoned in 50% of cases.

Q: Why should I care about birds?

A: We are taking an education approach and asking people to keeping their dogs on leads in this area. It’s about balancing the protection of native animals and plants whilst allowing existing behaviour.

Q: What’s changed for horses?

A: Same regulation as before: horses are required to stay below the high-tide line.  We are adding the requirement to steer clear of the breeding exclusion area.

Q: Where else can I take my dog?

Surf Coast Shire have a map and list of regulations. The map is currently being update to reflect the trial at Point Impossible.

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