Far North District Council animal management officers will begin patrolling a number of popular beaches in the district on Saturday, in response to complaints that some dog owners are flouting the council's dog control bylaw.
The bylaw does not allow dogs on many beaches between 9am and 6pm from December 1 to February 28. It also bans them at all times in areas where endangered wildlife, such as the New Zealand dotterel and the banded dotterel, live and/or breed.
The council's general manager district services, Dr Dean Myburgh, said the bylaw was aimed at ensuring that swimmers and other beach users could have fun in the sun without disruption from dogs, and to allow endangered birds to raise their young without risk of predation by dogs.
The council had received complaints that some people are allowing their dogs on beaches during prohibited times, and that unleashed dogs had been seen at dotterel breeding areas at Tauranga Bay and Taupo Bay.
"People are also telling us that some beach users have felt unsafe with dogs running around unleashed, and that bird colonies near or on the beaches could also be at risk," Dr Myburgh said.
"When animal management officers have responded to complaints they sometimes find the offending dogs and owners have left the scene by the time they arrive."
Irresponsible people were giving all dog owners a bad name, he added, while those who were responsible, and complied with the bylaw, felt they were being disadvantaged.
"We've decided that we will patrol beaches of interest from this Saturday," he said.
"Officers will collect evidence with the intention of issuing infringement notices if they see any breaches of the bylaw."
The bylaw controlling dogs from December 1 to February 28 covers Taipa, Cable Bay, Cooper's Beach, Hihi, Opononi/Omapere, all beaches at Whangaroa, Te Ngaere Bay, English Bay, Opua Beach and Opito Bay. The list also includes Tapeka, Long Beach (Russell), Te Haumi, Paihia, Tauranga Bay and Taupo Bay, which are to be patrolled.
All dogs must be leashed on those beaches at all times outside the period December 1 to February 28, and in all public playgrounds in Kaitaia (plus the public swimming baths complex), Cooper's Beach, Cable Bay, Opononi/Omapere, Kaeo/Whangaroa, Kaikohe (plus Lindvart Park, Memorial Park, Library Square, Joyce Park and Broadway from Hongi St to Rankin St), Paihia/Te Haumi and Kerikeri (plus public swimming complexes).
All dogs must be leashed on any footpath adjoining any public street, road, private way or state highway in the Far North at all times.
They are permanently banned from all areas that are publicly accessible wildlife sanctuaries, administered by DoC or are noted by a recognised authority as places where New Zealand dotterels, banded dotterels, brown teal, blue penguins or kiwi live/breed.