Date: 14 October 2009
Stricter dog control measures are in place at Napier’s Ahuriri Estuary to protect the migratory and resident birds which rely on estuaries for their food.
Dogs are prohibited in the Ahuriri Estuary Wildlife Refuge which includes all the mudflats and tidal water areas in the lower estuary under the new dog control by-laws implemented by the Napier City Council, in cooperation with the Department of Conservation (DOC).
“People using the walking track through the refuge must keep their dogs on leads as it is from this track that dogs often make their escape into the Wildlife Refuge (mudflats and water),” DOC biodiversity ranger John Adams said.
Mr Adams said migratory waders currently returning to the estuary would be hungry after their 11 000km journey, completed in just five or six days.
“During this time they’re very vulnerable to disturbance. Even the presence of a dog could disturb them from their feeding grounds so it’s important that we protect them.”
Most dogs possess a hunting instinct and are perceived to be a threat by wildlife, Mr Adams said.
“Their mere presence can have a disturbing affect and cause birds to stop feeding and/or resting and vacate the area. Continued disturbance can result in the permanent displacement of some species.”
Signage to be installed at the estuary will explain where dogs can be taken.
Under the new by-laws there are areas around the refuge for dog walking. They include a “controlled” area which requires dogs to be on a leash along the walking track, and a “leash-free exercise area”, the mown grassed area that runs from Pandora Bridge in the south along to the wooden barriers adjacent to the vehicle park area opposite the Westshore Hotel. It includes all of the old Embankment Road area, to the bridge over the Estuary channel.
There is also information on dog policy and by-laws and dog exercise brochures available at the Napier City Council’s office and website: Napier City Council
“It’s important that dog owners familiarise themselves and comply with the new by-laws,” Mr Adams said.