Every year shorebirds nest at the Gippsland Lakes as part of their lifecycle, unfortunately shorebird numbers are decreasing and some species are faced with the threat of extinction.
Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee co-chair, Angus Hume, said waterbird abundance and diversity is one of the most important aspects of the Gippsland Lakes.
“The Gippsland Lakes provide an important feeding, resting and breeding place for shorebirds and they rely on a healthy Gippsland Lakes system for their survival and minimal disturbances for their survival.
“Shorebirds are under increasing pressure though from dogs, feral animals and even boat wake as they are extremely sensitive and easy to spook,” continued Mr Hume.
Because beach-nesting birds have such poor breeding success, their numbers are declining. If too many birds fail to produce young over time, their species becomes faced with the threat of extinction.
“Small changes in your behaviour can have a huge positive impact on their survival,” explained Mr Hume.
“Keeping dogs on leashes or not walking in areas where shorebirds are nesting is one easy way to do this
“Once a dog detects a nesting bird, its natural curiosity can lead it straight to the vulnerable eggs and chicks.
“No matter how well trained your dog is, accidental crushing of eggs and chicks can occur when a dog runs around on the beach.
“Adult birds that are incubating eggs or brooding chicks are easily disturbed by dogs on the beach, so while there might be no intention to do harm, the impacts can be severe.
“Popular nesting spots for shorebirds are Rigby, Crescent and Pelican islands along with Lake Tyers beach. Real care should be taken at these areas so chicks can hatch and grow safely.
“Chicks are easily spooked by people and dogs and if they spend more time in hiding that feeding they can starve to death.
“We all need to work together to help protect and conserve these important species”.