Pets at Cape Cod National Seashore

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Date: June 11, 2015
Contact: George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent, 508-957-0701

Superintendent George Price announces that two new areas of Cape Cod National Seashore are being seasonally opened to leashed pets. Effective immediately leashed pets will be allowed on the Nauset Bike Trail in Eastham from Salt Pond Visitor Center to Coast Guard Beach from November 1st through April 30th each year. The trail will remain closed to pets outside of these dates. Visitors are reminded that bicycle activity on the trail can be frequent and pets must be on a leash of six feet or less.

Additionally, leashed pets are now allowed on a portion of the Great Island trail system. Year-round dog walkers can traverse the trail with their pets from both the upper Great Island main parking area and lower "gut" parking area, down to the first dune cut and out onto the beach, unless the area has been closed due to shorebird activity. Laminated maps are in place to guide users to the newly opened area. The remaining area of the Great Island trail system will remain closed to pets.

As Cape Cod National Seashore works to create and maintain areas accessible to responsible pet owners, visitors are reminded that the leash rule is strictly enforced in all areas managed by the seashore. These rules are put into place for the protection of wildlife and visitors alike. Conformity to existing pet restrictions helps limit pet and wildlife interaction, which in turn allows the national seashore to consider expansion of uses into new areas such as was done here.

With the return of spring, piping plovers have also returned to their breeding grounds on outer Cape Cod. Piping plovers are listed as a threatened species under the Federal and Massachusetts Endangered Species Acts. They have been courting and establishing territories and are now nesting.

Piping plovers are ground nesting birds and raise their flightless chicks on beaches where they are vulnerable to predators, storm tides, and human disturbance. Also, migratory birds including endangered roseate terns and threatened red knots will soon be arriving to national seashore beaches for resting and feeding in preparation for their long-distance southward migration. The National Park Service, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, carries out management of special status species at Cape Cod National Seashore.

Both nesting and migrating shorebirds are particularly sensitive to the presence of dogs. They have a similar behavioral response when predators (e.g., coyotes and foxes) are nearby, with the effect being even greater when dogs are off-leash. Most loose dogs naturally chase any

movement on the beach including adult plovers, flightless chicks, and flocks of migratory birds, all of which will be disturbed and could be killed in the process.

The Cape Cod National Seashore staff appreciates your cooperation and assistance with not disturbing wildlife and keeping your pet on leash everywhere within the boundary of the national seashore.

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Last updated: June 11, 2015

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