The seasonal partial ban on dogs at Long Beach initiated by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in 2010 is continuing for the 2012 season. The ban is in effect from April 1 through September 30 and affects all town properties north of the “Day Parking Area”, which is a 4x4 parking area located approximately one mile north of the main parking area. Leashed dogs will be allowed on Ryder Way and the beachfront from the main parking lot north to the Day Parking Area, excluding areas closed for shorebird nesting.
State regulations require that the Plymouth Long Beach Management Plan, which enables Off Road Vehicle (ORV) use on the beachfront, comply with the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). In order to comply with MESA, the Town is obligated to protect threatened and endangered shorebirds that use the beach for nesting and feeding. Plymouth Long Beach is a regionally significant area for nesting Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Common Terns, Arctic Terns, and Roseate Terns, which are all protected under state and/or federal laws. The Town’s obligation includes ensuring that these shorebirds are not negatively impacted by unleashed dogs.
In 2008, the DFW issued a conditional “No Take” determination and required the town to implement certain measures to prevent unleashed dogs on the beach. As part of these measures, the Town conducted dog monitoring during the 2009 season. After their review of the 2009 monitoring data, the DFW determined that modifications were necessary to prevent an adverse effect on nesting shorebirds by unleashed dogs, and required the Town to ban dogs from the most sensitive nesting areas to prevent a “take” under MESA, which is defined as “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, hound, kill, trap, capture, collect, process, disrupt the nesting, breeding, feeding or migratory activity or attempt to engage in any such conduct”.
The town continued monitoring dogs at Long Beach in the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Data collected by Town staff that showed that 32 percent of dogs on Long Beach were unleashed during the 2010 season, which is significantly higher than during the 2009 season (22 percent). A request submitted to DFW to lift the restrictions for the 2011 season was denied due to the increased percentage of off-leash dogs. Although there was an improvement during the 2011 season with 24 percent of dogs unleashed, this level remains above the 2009 level that resulted in the current restrictions. In addition, nearly 33 percent of dogs observed at Long Beach during the 2011 season were in restricted areas. A significant number of dog walkers are still failing to comply with the leash requirement and restrictions.
In order to prevent further dog restrictions, and to create the possibility of lifting the current restrictions, the Town urges dog owners to comply with the partial ban and leash laws in allowable areas. Violations of the ban and/or the leash law can result in fines up to $100.
For more information, contact the Town of Plymouth’s Environmental Management Division at 508-747-1620 x201 or go to the Environmental Management page at www.plymouth-ma.gov.