We are writing this blog to address a subject that is of great concern to many of us – dogs on the beach. Many of our members and the board are dog owners who love nothing more than spending time with our beloved pets.
Who doesn’t like to go for a walk with their dog on the beach? Or who does not enjoy watching your pet play with the waves of the sea? Surely the answer is that many do.
But we are living in unprecedented times and have seen our daily lives upended. Our refuge was closed for several weeks and has only recently been reopened. This was due to the hard work of local groups and administrators of the refuge who came together to agree on a set of protocols for reopening our beaches. Part of the agreement was that we, the local community, would enforce these so that our beaches could remain open.
So currently we are being watched more closely to make sure the protocols are followed. No one wants to see our beaches closed again. So please do not take your dogs to the beach.
Taking dogs to the beaches of the Ostional Refuge could have an impact on ecosystems.
To help better understand this we interviewed the administrator of the refuge, Yeimy Cedeño, and the scientist Vanessa Bézy, to understand where these prohibitions come from and what their reasoning is.
- They attack wild species
As its name says, protected wild areas are seeking to safeguard their biodiversity. Domestic animals are not part of the wild ecosystems and could attack animals such as turtles, birds, coatis, raccoons or any other species that inhabit the refuge.
- They destroy turtle nests
According to the scientist Vanessa Bézy, who has studied the turtle nesting on the beaches of Guiones and Pelada, 15% of the turtle nests on those two beaches are destroyed by dogs that are loose or that their owners do not watch. The researcher explained that during the monitoring, it is very easy to recognize when a looting occurred by a dog, since they can detect the tracks of the animals and the eggshells remain on the sand. Bézy emphasized that there is a lot of research that shows how domestic animals can affect ecosystems of which they are not a part.
- Spread of diseases
Dogs can transmit diseases to wild animals, as well as in the opposite direction. As explained by the administrator of the refuge, there are diseases such as distemper in which there can be infections between dogs and raccoons. This is a contagious disease caused by a virus that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and sometimes nervous system.
- They displace native species
Although pet owners can ensure that they control their animals, they will give off odors and fluids that are detected by other wild species, which will flee due to the detection of predators. These movements significantly affect the abundance of wild populations.
- The law prohibits it.
Many people believe that this regulation is due to Covid; however, since 1977 the National Park Service Law has existed and, in its article 8, the introduction of animals to protected wild areas is prohibited. It must be remembered that since 1985 the beaches of Guiones and Pelada have been part of the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge.
According to Cedeño, the park rangers have the power to ask visitors to leave the refuge, if they do not comply with this rule. In addition, a suspension of activities could be made, where you are formally notified that you cannot bring pets to the refuge.
In case the person breaks the rule, again, the action would become a crime and his pet could be confiscated by the authorities of the National Animal Health Service (Senasa).
Although we love to enjoy the beaches with our pets, the Nosara Civic Association encourages you to be mindful of these regulations, so that we protect the rich biodiversity that surrounds us. Let’s hope a refuge official does not have to call this to our attention. Respect these five reasons and enjoy the rest of the beautiful places that Nosara offers us to go for a walk with our animals.