Only the Strictest Rules Apply: Investigating Regulation Compliance of Beaches to Minimize Invasive Dog Impacts on Threatened Shorebird Populations

Part of the Coastal Research Library book series (COASTALRL, volume 29)


In many countries domesticated dogs occur abundantly on coasts, where they may co-occur with and pose a threat to coastal wildlife such as threatened shorebirds. Dogs on beaches fit the ecological definition of invasive species. The management of dogs on coasts is controversial, with polarised debate surrounding dog access to public open spaces, and questions around the effectiveness of prevailing dog management regulations. We examined the levels of compliance with dog regulations (3516 checks, 69 ocean beaches) under six prevailing management regimes in Victoria, Australia. Compliance was low to moderate across all dog management ‘types’, but varied significantly. The highest compliance rates were associated with ‘no dog’ areas. Despite poor overall compliance, dog regulations appeared to be associated with different rates of occurrence and relative abundances of dogs, suggesting either they effectively displaced dog walkers or that dog area designations reflect usage patterns, or both.


Dog regulations Coastal management Compliance Threatened species Human-wildlife conflict Domestic animal management 



Data were collected by BirdLife Australia and volunteers with the Beach-nesting Birds Program, funded by the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country program. This work was conducted under Deakin University Animal Ethics permit A45/2006 and Deakin University Human Ethics Exemption 2012-204. This work was supported by the Deakin University Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) and a School of Life and Environmental Sciences Collaborative Research Grant. Write-up was supported by the Beach Ecology And Conservation Hub (BEACH Venus Bay).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BirdLife AustraliaCarltonAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Integrative Ecology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and the Built EnvironmentDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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