In 2015/16 SLLP carried out a study to monitor effects of dog walking on bird population in Strangford Lough. “The Impact of Dog walking and Human Activity on over-wintering bird populations in Greyabbey Bay”
From this study it was concluded that a disturbance event effecting over-wintering birds occurs approximately once every hour on Greyabbey Bay. The data shows that the majority of this disruption is caused by dogs being walked off lead and that excluding unknown and natural causes, off lead dogs cause the most severe response from the birds. To mitigate for this disturbance a “Share the Shore” postcard was produced and distributed in the Greyabbey community and other communities at the north end of Strangford Lough. In 2018 6no. “Share the Shore” information panels were produced and located at “hotspots” for bird disturbance around Strangford and Lecale AONB. They are located in council owned land at Kircubbin, Cunningburn, Floodgates carpark Newtownards, Island Hill, Whiterock and Killough.
As part of this project, we have now created an interactive map, providing those wishing to enjoy walking their dogs with details of alternative sites away from the shore at this time of year (September to March). Included are some options for off-leash dog exercising. Clicking on the dog icon on the map reveals a pop-up of the relevant information.