Park Service will crack down on unleashed dogs on beaches
Service officials announced in a recent press release that there will
be a focused effort this season to improve compliance with leash laws
on Cape Hatteras National Seashore to protect wildlife.
Existing National Park Service regulations require dogs to be leashed in all units of the national park system.
The national seashore serves as breeding habitat for a variety of
protected shorebird and waterbird species and as nesting habitat for
several species of sea turtles. Many of these protected bird
species nest on bare sandy beaches and the nests are often not readily
apparent to park visitors. The disturbance from dogs running
off-leash can interrupt breeding behavior and cause incubating birds to
leave their nest, which exposes the nest to predators. Once
disturbed, birds may abandon nesting at those locations altogether.
In 2008, NPS law enforcement rangers documented more than 700 cases of
dogs off-leash at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which included
numerous violations on beaches near resource protection areas that had
been established to prevent disturbance or harm to nesting or foraging
protected wildlife species.
“To minimize impacts to wildlife and still allow as much visitor
access as possible under the terms of the consent decree, we are intent
on improving the level of visitor compliance with the leash
requirement,” said Superintendent Mike Murray. “I
have directed park staff to step up their efforts to inform pet owners
of the federal leash regulation and to target enforcement of the
regulation in wildlife areas.”
Park rangers can issue federal violation notices carrying a $150 fine
to any pet owner who does not comply with the leash requirement.
Pets are prohibited in resource protection areas. Elsewhere, pets
must be physically restrained at all times on a leash not exceeding 6
feet in length.