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Dogs can scare nesting birds | Letter
A running happy dog is a truly sweet sight. But during bird migratory and fledging periods, they can do irreparable harm to a species’ habits and habitat. The past two months at Fern Cove have seen flocks of migrating waterfowl, shore birds, osprey and two newly-fledged eaglets whose first shaky flights land them on the beach where they ratchet up their nerve for the trip back to the nest.
Recently, I watched a Cove visitor’s three off-leash dogs chase the eaglets into the brush and then scatter a group of brants who were feeding before continuing their migration. One dog’s person reassured me that her dog “never catches one.” A bird that has to expend energy avoiding dogs after flying thousands of miles (with thousands more to go in some cases) is a bird at risk.
Flock sizes have diminished in the years we have lived here. I’m sure there are a lot of reasons for this. There are also simple things we can do to mitigate that trend. Most Vashon dog lovers I know love their pets and also care deeply about the environment. In this spirit, and for the birds, please keep your dog on a leash in sensitive areas.
— Kate Thompson