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Parks Canada imposes seasonal dog ban at Combers Beach near Tofino

To protect migratory shorebirds, dogs are banned on Combers Beach from April 14 to October 1, 2022
Shorebirds rest and replenish at the estuary on Combers Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Walking your dog on Combers Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve could land you with fines up to $25,000.

Starting April 14 and ending October 1, dogs will not be permitted on Combers Beach between Sandhill Creek and Green Point Rocks, including Combers Beach Trail and the boardwalk access to Combers Beach from Green Point Campground.

The decision was made to protect migratory shorebirds so they can rest and feed.

“Migratory shorebirds depend on the national park reserve as a place to rest and forage for food during long trips between the Arctic and areas as far south as South America. When migratory birds are disturbed, the extra time and energy spent fleeing can affect their survival. The presence of dogs can also contribute to the habituation of wildlife such as wolves who frequent beaches to access coastal food sources,” reads an April 8 media statement from Parks Canada.

While leashed dogs will continue to be permitted in all other areas of the Long Beach Unit of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (PRNPR), Parks Canada warns that the Combers Beach area will be patrolled by Parks Canada staff and Law Enforcement Officers. Under the Canada National Parks Act, tickets for a dog off leash begin at $58 for a first offence and repeat offences can lead to court appearances and fines up to $25,000.

Parks Canada say the seasonal dog ban at Combers is being introduced as a trial basis to study whether it helps migratory shorebirds, and that it is the last resort to protect wildlife.

“Ongoing research demonstrates how off leash dogs negatively impact wildlife, and as such Parks Canada is trying a new management tool to protect migratory shorebirds,” reads the media statement.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve conservation manager Jacinthe Amyot said Combers Beach is a good place for this pilot study as the visitation level is low and it only represents 10 per cent of accessible sandy beaches in the Long Beach Unit.

“We are taking a very well thought out and balanced approach. Sandy beaches are so special, but there is a co-existence challenge,” said Amyot.

“Recent studies demonstrated that visitors with dogs have a disproportionate negative effect (77 per cent greater) on migratory shorebirds relative to visitors without dogs,” she went on to note.

In the Broken Group Islands and West Coast Trail areas of the PRNPR, dogs are not permitted unless they are service pets.

More information about dogs and pets can be found on the Parks Canada website:

RELATED: Tofino council vows to tackle off-leash dog concerns

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