On-lead Area Protects Critically Endangered Beach Stone Curlews Port Stephens Port Stephens News by News Of The Area - Modern Media - September 15, 2021 A Beach Stone Curlew taking flight. Photo: Matt Spillard. A NUMBER of Port Stephens’ beaches are designated as on-lead areas for dogs to protect fragile environments and species living under threat. According to Local Land Services the Beach Stone Curlew which can be found at Soldiers Point is a critically endangered species. Advertise with News of The Area today. It’s worth it for your business. Message us. Phone us – (02) 4981 8882. Email us – [email protected] The Pied Oystercatcher which can also be found in the area is listed as a vulnerable species. According to Port Stephens Council there are only 11 breeding pairs of Beach Stone Curlew shorebirds left in NSW. We are fortunate to have a breeding pair right here at Soldiers Point. However, some residents are allowing their dogs off-lead in the environment where this pair live, or allowing their dogs off-lead in the water for a swim at these on-lead beaches. Local resident David Rodley told News Of The Area, “Soldiers Point beaches are home to some wonderful endangered birds like the Pied Oystercatchers and the rare Beach Stone Curlew. “These birds feed on the beach all the way from Soldiers Point Marina through to Cromarty Bay and they are highly susceptible to threats such as free roaming dogs. “These beaches are designated ‘dog on-lead’ to protect the birdlife (and also our resident koalas who get stressed with the smell of dogs) so I encourage all dog owners to be responsible and respect the sanctuary that Soldiers Point offers the wildlife.” Port Stephens Council has advised, “Dogs are prohibited from Wildlife Protection Areas and Recreation Areas, and must always be on a lead in other areas unless they are at one of our designated off lead beaches. “We ask our community to please be aware of this before taking their dogs off lead and to look for signage when walking your dog.” Port Stephens Council’s website has a map which details all dog off lead areas. ”We encourage our community to stick to these sites when taking their dog out for exercise. “The map includes beaches where dogs can be off lead to swim. “Our rangers are always out and about to educate our community and enforce these rules.” The community can help to protect the Beach Stone Curlew and the Pied Oystercatchers by reducing disturbance by keeping dogs on lead – only walk your dogs off lead on dog-friendly beaches or off lead parks; when walking on our beaches, keep below the high-tide mark and off the dunes (especially fenced off areas) so you won’t disturb nests and habitat; looking out for our shorebird signs – if do see a shorebird while walking, observe it from a distance and give it plenty of space; report your observations. Your records can help to conserve birds and their habitat. You can report bird sightings from anywhere within the Hunter Region at https://www.hboc.org.au/home/report-a-sighting/ and report any incidents to Council where you observe people breaking these rules. By Marian SAMPSON A Beach Stone Curlew taking flight. Photo: Matt Spillard. Some other NSW Councils use bolder signage to make on and off lead areas easier to identify. Photo: Marian Sampson. A Pied Oystercatcher feeding in the shallows. Photo: Marian Sampson. A dog enjoying the shallows at an off lead designated area. Photo: Marian Sampson.