Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Migrating, Nesting Shorebirds Need Help From Pet Owners

May 10, 2017


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

A dog disturbs a flock of whimbrels on an Oregon beach. Credit: Roy Lowe / USFWS

PORTLAND, Ore. — Beach visitors have been flocking to Pacific Northwest beaches as the sun begins to return after a long, wet winter. While long walks on the beach with your dog may be relaxing for the two of you, it's very stressful (and possibly deadly) for the thousands of shorebirds trying to nest or rest in the midst of a long migration.

“The western snowy plover and other migratory birds really need to be left alone, particularly during nesting season and migrations,” said Laura Todd, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Newport field office. “Some of these birds are in the middle of a thousand-mile journey that starts in South America and doesn’t finish until they reach the Arctic. The beaches here in Oregon and Washington offer a much-needed spot to feed, rest and nest, and shorebirds rely on humans to let them be to complete their journey or nest successfully.”

Some areas have restrictions on certain activities to protect shorebirds, including vehicle limitations and dog restrictions. The rules regarding dogs on beaches vary by location in Oregon and Washington. Some do not allow any pets, others require leashes, and some allow dogs to be off-leash if they’re under voice command.

Oregon and Washington beaches are particularly important for the threatened western snowy plover. The nesting season for the western snowy plover extends through mid-September and there are access restrictions on Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and state lands. These areas are noted by signs.

Dogs, however, aren’t so great at reading signs and the responsibility falls on their owners.

“We want everyone to get out and enjoy their beaches,” Todd said. “However, please take special care with your pets and follows regulations. There are plenty of great beach spots that allow humans, pets and wildlife to all have their spot in the sand.”

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has even produced a brochure about the best State Parks for dogs. Visit for more details.

For more information on beach rules and regulations, visit:

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