Local beaches will be closed to dogs again Feb. 15 to April 15 to give the migrating black Brant geese space to fatten up during their long flight up the coast of North America.
“Compliance is up around 95 per cent or higher,” said Vancouver Island University professor Greg Klimes. His resource management students help patrol the beaches during the closure.
“People are really good about it and I’d say 99 per cent of the people we do see with dogs on the beach are from out of town and just had no idea,” he said.
He said his students provide information and don’t argue if people resist, pointing out they don’t have any authority. They will report details to conservation officers if people continue to disobey the ban.
Conservation officer Stuart Bates agrees, praising the compliance of most residents and that they have given out very few of the possible $230 fines.
“The geese see any dog as a predator,” Bates said, adding the Brant’s main predator in the north is the Arctic fox. “If they see a dog from even a distance on a leash they will stop feeding and fly out to sea.”
He said it can take hours of feeding to make up for a five-minute-flight like that.
The geese are primarily feeding on eelgrass and herring roe to increase their fat stores.
The beach closures are in effect in Parksville from Doehle Avenue to the Englishman River, plus Rathtrevor Beach, which is also closed to dogs by a separate provincial park ban. People are still allowed to walk their leashed dogs on the boardwalk at Parksville Beach.
Dogs are also banned from the waterfront from the Little Qualicum River delta to Seacroft Road in Qualicum Beach and Columbia Beach in French Creek.
Watch The NEWS for more on a variety of Brant Festival events.