Pro­posed­dog ban re­versed

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - HUGH COLLINS

Waikowhai Park dog walk­ers will no longer take ac­cess to the re­serve for granted.

Un­til last Fri­day the Manukau Har­bour fore­shore park in Mt Roskill nearly saw a ban on dogs on beaches due to a sup­posed threat they posed to birdlife in the re­serve’s in­ter­tidal zone.

Res­i­dents, in­clud­ing non­dog own­ers, ex­pressed their dis­may and brought it for­ward to a Puke­ta­papa Lo­cal Board hear­ing on Au­gust 12.

Spear­headed by Cape Horn Drive res­i­dent and black labrador owner John Skeates, it saw six dog own­ers ex­press their view the pro­posed by­law was il­log­i­cal and not sup­ported by any real ev­i­dence. It was ul­ti­mately a suc­cess for the ca­nine walk­ers with lo­cal board mem­ber Michael Wood say­ing an out­come was made that bal­ances the needs of dog own­ers, non­dog own­ers and the en­vi­ron­ment. Skeates says this re­sult is a ‘‘suc­cess for com­mon sense’’.

The data ini­tially pre­sented about the threat to birdlife was a ‘‘generic’’ state­ment and not a spe­cific study on the Waikowhai Park coast, he says.

‘‘My call to [the lo­cal board] was to have the courage to do some­thing that would work for this fore­shore as op­posed to some­thing that came from some­where else and they had the dis­cre­tion to do that,’’ Skeates says.

‘‘....There was no ground nest­ing birds in the area, the real is­sue was the birds feed­ing on the wa­ter’s edge and I think we as­sured them that largely dogs didn’t go chasing birds...dog own­ers kept them un­der con­trol.’’ Wood says the pro­posal orig­i­nally came about when the lo­cal board com­menced a re­view of dog ac­cess rules ear­lier this year due to old and out­dated ex­ist­ing ones. As a re­sult coun­cil of­fi­cers rec­om­mended a pro­hi­bi­tion on dog ac­cess along part of the Waikowhai coast, he says.

‘‘Coun­cil of­fi­cers from the bio­di­ver­sity team pro­vided gen­eral ad­vice that dog ac­cess along the coast can have a neg­a­tive im­pact on birdlife, par­tic­u­larly if birds are nest­ing on the fore­shore.

‘‘The board has looked at this is­sue closely and while we be­lieve this is good gen­eral ad­vice to con­sider, there is no ev­i­dence of birds nest­ing along the Waikowhai Coast. Most birds along the coast nest in trees or in other ar­eas.’’ Wood says Auck­land Coun­cil will now get rid of the con­fus­ing ‘‘time and sea­son’’ rules re­gard­ing dog ac­cess to the park.

PHOTO: HUGH COLLINS

John Skeates couldn’t see any ev­i­dence for the pro­posed dog ban at Waikowhai Park.

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