Help endangered shorebirds get a shot at survival

Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 04:23 PM.

• Respect posted areas: Nests are camouflaged and blend in with the sand thus making them hard to see. Walking or allowing your dog to roam in roped off areas puts nests at risk of being trampled. This also applies to the air over roped off areas, shooting fireworks, flying remote controlled planes, or flying a parasail over protected areas creates a disturbance and will chase birds away.

• Never intentionally force birds to fly: Birds come to our beaches to rest just like we do. When we scatter a group of birds they have to use energy that they need to reserve for nesting activities or migration. While it creates a great visual it is the same as someone chasing you as soon as you sit down on the beach.

• Keep pets on a leash and away from nesting areas: While it is probably true that your particular dog doesn’t chase birds, nesting shorebirds can’t distinguish a good dog from a predatory dog; they just assume all canines are predatory and react as such. Two of their main predators are canines, such as coyotes and fox. They will flush off of their nest when approached by anything resembling a threat putting eggs and chicks at risk; this includes your dog no matter how well behaved. In Walton county dogs are allowed on the beach at certain times with a proper permit. They are not allowed at anytime to be off a leash or on the state park beaches.

• Keep the beach clean and do not feed wildlife: Food scraps attract predators such as raccoons and fish crows to the beaches. Fishing line and other litter poses a threat to flightless chicks. It is against the rules to feed wildlife in the state park not to mention it is impolite to your beach neighbors to attract seagulls with snacks. They will eat anything and don’t know when to go away.

Spread the word: If you see people disturbing the nesting birds please let them know how they may be affecting bird’s survival or contact the Grayton Beach State Park office at 850-267-8300, the Walton County Sheriffs Office at 850-892-8111, or FWC at 888-404-3922.

Please help us give these birds a chance at survival.


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