DOG OWNER TROUBLE AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH AND WHY IT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA TO IGNORE FEDERAL LAWS

Piping Plover overexposed copyright Kim SmithFor the sake of the Piping Plovers folks really and truly need to keep their dogs off Good Harbor Beach. It is a matter of life and death for these beautiful creatures and their soon-to-be-arriving offspring. Additionally, the following article was brought to our attention by friend Pauline Bresnahan. The town of Scarborough, Maine, was threatened with a $12,000.00 fine for not enforcing their leash laws. A dog off leash killed a Piping Plover. If one of Gloucester’s Piping Plovers are killed by a dog, we taxpayers could very well be held responsible for the maximum fine. Read the story here.Good Harbor Beach No Dogs cooyright Kim Smith

Good harbor Beach ScofflawThis morning I arrived at GHB a little later than usual, around 6:30am. Within the first three minutes, there were three dogs on the beach, and all off leash. The man in the above photo had two dogs, and one of the dogs made a beeline for the Piping Plover nesting site. The guy did absolutely nothing to prevent his dog from running into the restricted area. I called out to him to let him know. He made a rude remark and called his dog back, but only after it was halfway in. The dog owner then walked the length of the beach with his dogs still off leash. When he returned his dogs chased the gulls as well as the Plover feeding at the shoreline. Now if it was a fledgling Plover, the baby bird wouldn’t have stood a chance in heck in the face of the exuberant dog. So after the dog ran into the restricted area, chased one Plover at the water’s edge, he then put his dogs on leash as he was leaving the beach. He was joined by another fellow at the footbridge, whose dog was off leash.Good harbor Beach no dogs copyright Kim Smith

It is in some dog’s nature to chase birds. Why oh why would a dog owner bring a dog like that to the beach with a known endangered bird species? The rule is no dogs during the summer months. We have a sweet Scottish Terrier and I sure would love to bring her with me when I am filming and photographing early in the morning. But even she, with her calm, gentle disposition, I know would terrify the Plovers and could easily accidentally squish a nestling.Good Harbor Beach Dog copyright Kim Smith

The Culprit. Is this a bad dog? No, of course not. I think it looks quite cute. Are there any bad dogs, or just thoughtless owners?

Piping Plover retruning to nest copyright Kim Smith

Plover returning to its nest this morning

With merely only a few thousand pairs of nesting Piping Plovers remaining nationwide, it’s super important that we all work together as a community to insure the successful nesting of the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. There are so many unavoidable, natural mishaps for the birds and their nestlings; let’s prevent the avoidable disasters. Please, let all your friends and family know to keep dogs off the beach. If you see a dog, please ask the owner to remove the dog.

Piping Plover comparative photo with seagull copyright Kim SmithIn the above photo, you can compare the size of the adult Plover to the size of the immature gull and get an idea of just how tiny they are. And the nestlings are teeny tiny!

It’s no excuse for the behavior of today’s scofflaws, but I think we need bold signs at both ends of Good Harbor Beach, clearly explaining what a federally endangered species is, what a Piping Plover is, and why it is so important to keep all dogs off the beach. Also, perhaps if an officer were stationed at the footbridge end beginning at 5:30am, handing out tickets, folks would take the law more seriously. Or, if the officer were positioned in the middle of the beach, he would catch offenders in the act. I imagine it wouldn’t take more than a few days of ticketing for word to get out that the laws were being enforced. In just the short period of time that I was there this morning, the City could have earned well over a thousand dollars in dog fines alone!

      *   *   *

Male and Female Piping Plover’s take turns on the nest. Every morning they each spend time at the water’s edge feeding and bathing in the tide pools. Today this little fellow gave himself an extra vigorous washing! 

Piping plover bath copyright Kim Smith.Piping plover bath -2 copyright Kim Smith.Dunking from side to side

Piping plover drying wings copyright Kim Smith.Drying WingsPiping plover drying wings-2 copyright Kim Smith.

50 thoughts on “DOG OWNER TROUBLE AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH AND WHY IT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA TO IGNORE FEDERAL LAWS

  1. Some dog owners don’t care about anyone else’s rights. They are the jerks that don’t clean up after or control their dogs. They leave the dog poop in plastic bags to decorate the area for others. They are selfish towards other people, so why would they care about a stupid bird? I would love to see a police officer give out tickets at GHB and our other beaches and parks. I agree with you Kim, but I have seen this attitude here and in other places. Plymouth beach has had this problem for years. Locals resent the endangered species for limiting their use of the beach. We humans should be able to care for all the creatures in our world and respect them. If these birds don’t nest and reproduce, they will face extinction. I find it incredibly selfish that some humans can’t or don’t want to see this.
    Susan
    I imagine some people will find my caring for wildlife over people unimaginable, but I see the role of human kind as stewards of our treasured planet and all life matters.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I think you shouldn’t have blurred the faces. These selfish and rude people deserve to be exposed for ruining things for everyone else. Obnoxious.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I believe the woman in the first picture with the little black dog is the same one that told me to “mind my own business” and “I live here” when I reminded her dogs were not allowed on the beach. I have a video of her coming off the beach with the dog and her license plate number. When she said I live here she called me a tourist and I corrected her and said I live here too. And does it make it okay for you to break the rules because you’re a resident?

      Liked by 5 people

  3. I’m in SC and have loved your series on the Piping Plovers. You are right about the signs and it would also help to have volunteers there to educate people about them, too. I hope that people will be respectful and be more careful with their dogs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As a gesture we gave out over 100 t-shirts around our opening. Probably not the best idea looking back now. I have shown this to my staff. If we can help we certainly will. As a responsible dog owner this sort of activity furiates me too.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Thank you Anthony for commenting. I posted the photo thinking it acceptable because it didn’t show the person’s faces, not noticing it was a Tonno t-shirt.

        I took my husband to your fabulous restaurant for Father’s Day and we had an exquisite dinner. What a gem! Hoping to find the time to post a mini review this week

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Why are the dog owner’s faces blurred? Were the police called? I’m a dog owner and respect that dogs aren’t allowed on the beaches in the summer, unfortunately, but would never think of letting my do loose where an endangered species was present . This is not cool at all.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Awesome photos! I do agree there are some idiots that just don’t care. Ignorant and uninformed. More signs to explain about these tiny birds and yes, maybe a police officer there at different times to enforce laws. Maybe while on duty they could spend one hour there early in the morning and later in the evening. Just a thought. Mimi Scone

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thankyou for posting this. The plovers face an uphill battle, so it’s important to help them survive. These irresponsible dog owners could undo all the good work of considerate dog owners and dog lovers last year who worked so hard to keep some dog time at the beach.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. GREAT Kim that you are letting people know. We all must speak up–make it loud and clear–keep your dogs AWAY from these nesting areas. ON LEASH at all times! (Or, better, at the Dog Park!) Selfish!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When will Gloucester police enforce the dog regulations? I have a dog and respect the law. Why do these ignoramuses thumb their noses? Because they can and few do diddly to pull their collars. No bad dogs.

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  9. Wow! You hit the nail on the head. It’s the thoughtless dog owners with an inflated and frankly illegal sense of entitlement who are ruining it for visitors to our beaches and the responsible dog owners who obey the law. I’d like to see the feds tag Gloucester with a fine. It might clarify their thinking a bit as to who’s at fault here. BTW, rude remarks are the standard response from dog owners who fail to control their animals.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. These dog owners have blatant disregard of respect and are ruining the name of dog owners in general, those of us who RESPECT the rules and months posted! Agreeing with the above who said these irresponsible dog owners could undo all the good work of considerate dog owners and dog lovers last year who worked so hard to keep some dog time at the beach. We live here too, be an adult, you are not special, be the person your dog thinks you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m glad that this article was written. Dogs need to be managed on beaches whether it’s piping plover nesting season or not. My two year old was nearly attacked by an unleashed dog who rushed at her at top speed. We scooped her up just in time and pushed the dog away, his teeth just missing her face. The dog owner was offended that we pushed the dog away! Said dog then went on to terrorize another dog who on the beach. There are many responsible dog owners, in fact most of them are, but that owner was oblivious to the dangerous behavior of their “pet.” The few idiots who don’t managed their dogs give dog owners a bad name and jeopardize health and safety.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree. …I’m a animal lover….but the last thing I want is a freaking dog running up to me on ,y blanket as I try to read ….unleashed while the owner says “oh don’t worry…she’s friendly” I don’t f’n care…what if I don’t want your freaking dog slobbering all over me? What if I was allergic to dogs? Why isn’t the leach laws being imposed at ALL of gloucester beaches,? I know I almost had my car towed cause I didn’t see the no parking sign….but if I did get towed….it would have been my fault. Keep your dog’s leashed bottom line or I have the right to defend myself with the stick I’ll be carrying from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anonymous, keeping them leashed isn’t the point here. The City bans dogs 24/7 from the beaches in the summer, leashed and unleashed. The dog owners know this and choose to ignore it. If the police could nail a few of them and start imposing fines it might be a deterrent. The city could earn a lot of money if it patrolled routinely every morning and evening when most of the beach goers have left, and the dog owners all show up. How about it, Chief Campanello?

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  13. Everyone’s comments are very helpful and well-taken. This morning there were no dogs on the beach, not a one! Spreading the word is having an impact. I am going to be there as many mornings as I can, to hopefully film the nestlings when they emerge and will keep everyone updated. I agree with commenter Susan, that we are the stewards of wildlife on our beautiful planet Earth.

    The faces were blurred because I don’t think it our role is to shame people, but to help educate. I only put the photos up in the first place, of the dog owners, because I read a few comments on Facebook, where people were saying it was only “one” incident, with “one” dog, and I believe folks should realize it is a much greater problem than just one. As the time for the nestlings to hatch is getting closer, I am taking our commenters advice and will call the police immediately.

    Please everyone, keep up the great work and continue to help spread the word about the Plovers, and why it is so important for dogs to keep off the beach. It is very exciting to have these rare and beautiful creatures here with us at our Good Harbor Beach. Hopefully, the nestlings will hatch very soon!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. They should put the police officer in plains clothes and then let home all the beach in the early morning he would surly catch them and ticket them!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. These dog owners are the same ones who go to meetings and shout down opposition, claim their dogs never jump on anyone etc. They should be shamed. Dog owners know perfectly well that dogs are not allowed on the beach in summer, birds or no birds. One time I ran into a dear friend who had his dog off leash in August on GHB.. I asked him WTF? and he informed me the lifeguards went home at five. Dog owners think dogs are members of the family. They call them fur babies and endow them with all the rights of children. I dunno if there is anything that will change that but these folks need to be shamed. They do not need to be educated. They know damn well what they are doing is wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I’m not making light of this, but I can’t help but wonder about how this issue might intersect with another Gloucester wildlife-related issue. I’m sure someone else might have brought this up, but here it is: Who’s protecting the piping plovers from the roving coyote hordes at night?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Plovers are so tiny; I don’t think that the coyotes will bother with them, but you never know. One reason we have such a huge increase in Lyme disease and rabbits is because the coyotes have outcompeted the fox for habitat. Fox are much better hunters of small creatures such as white-footed mice and chipmunks who are the greatest vectors of ticks.

      Like

  17. First point to make is the beach is closed go some place else. There are options in Rockport such as leash free zones over 50 acres I think that are quarry and wooded. There is a dog park in Gloucester that can be used and yes major problems exist with the management but if you are carefull you can work around these problems.

    People are claiming the dogs are doing damage to these birds but correct me if I am wrong that they nest in the dunes last I knew the dunes are off limits anyway. So owners keep your pets,kids, etc out of this area.

    I would like to see the environmental police or whoever has the task and authority Just. Close the beach to all
    No parking
    No beach access for any reason
    Which will solve the bird problem, trash carry out, children poop buried in the sand, dog fouling, being over run by tourist parking illegally in our neiborhoods, not to mention the hours of gridlock these cars are causing.

    But none of this would ever be considered because the city would not give up the parking fees for the true Benefit of the environment of the city. The only care is $$$$$$$$$$

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Often the birds do nest in the dunes however, our Good Harbor Piping Plovers have their nest at the edge of the dune, into the beach area. If you go to GHB, you can see that within the roped off area, the little protective house is there and the nesting plovers are within the barrier.

      After hatching, the nestlings go back and forth from the dune to the water’s edge to feed. They are very, very tiny and easily squished.

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    2. The birds nest in grassy areas near dunes but forage in the water Line. Dogs do not belong anywhere that has plovers, least terns etc.
      Source: I’m a shorebird ranger at Crane beach and a park ranger at sandy point state reservation.

      Like

    3. BJ….. Its a public beach! Dogs should not be on GHB during the summer months, It is posted and should be enforced……
      Really…. close the beach, so if you do that means NO One is allowed on it! How stupid..
      I have been going to GHB for 40 years and pay for a parking sticker and I am a responsible adult, that obeys the rules of the beach as do a lot of regulars who enjoy their time a GHB… It is the city of Gloucester who needs to enforce the laws of the beach, They have a policeman there when they are collecting money, and one who rides an all-Tirane vehicle, he does maybe one pass a day on the beach, rides by teens and adults who are drinking and all other illegal substances and does nothing…
      So there are many problems with the way the town handles all of this!
      I have dogs, I love my dogs…. But I would never bring my dogs onto the beach during the summer months, because it is posted!
      The city needs to police the area better and yes fine the owners who bring their dogs onto the beach, a couple of hefty fines should take care of the dogs and their owners and then they can enforce the other laws that are being broken….
      But sorry closing public beaches to people is just plain irrational, and for the people who like to do the name calling on these post, PLEASE, don’t we teach our children that we don’t do that…
      Be RESPONSIBLE people…..

      Like

  18. It’s so sad how entitled people are. I am a park ranger and have 30+ dogs brought to my beach every weekend by boat and we have plovers, common terns and least terns literally right next to them. Can you call environmental police?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Admirable article, Kim. Folks, how about it? Why not set up a group of volunteers to hover nearby pointedly to
    monitor & protect the birds, educate the public, and help the City enforce this ban?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. We have two dog officers can’t one be at the beach early for a while to stop this and issue citations. The sole reason for hiring a second animal control officer was to deal with issues like this!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I met Diane there yesterday at 5am inthe morning and think she is planning to come more often at that time, but then in the evening at 8pm there were several more dogs. That is a fifteen hour span of time.

    Like

  22. Thank you for your informative article and beautiful photos. Just this morning I was going to take my very sweet large dog to Good Harbor to walk off leash. In our town we have a influx of “Commercial” dog walkers, walking packs of dogs creating all sorts of havoc on natural wild life. These “commercial” walkers reside in Gloucester but walk in our town because they do get stopped in Gloucester. Hence I couldn’t walk in my own lovely trails because of the out of control “packs”. I came across your article while checking the date dog could be walked in GHB. I agree there are no bad dogs just irresponsible owners. I am gratefully informed about these lovely birds and will find a proper place to walk my dog.

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