The SABNES board has concluded that being dog-free gives the wildlife sanctuary the best chance of keeping its rich diversity of wildlife. SABNES also wants visitors to the sanctuary to experience nature at its fullest and, judging from visitor satisfaction, this strategy has been successful.
SABNES has consistently argued that having even leashed dogs in the sanctuary is not beneficial to wildlife, above all to nesting birds. This argument is supported by a scientific study done in Australia which measured the impact of humans with and without leashed dogs. The presence of walkers alone reduced the number of birds by 20 per cent; if walkers had leashed dogs, the reduction was 40 per cent. This reduction was even greater for ground-nesting birds. It reflects the birds’ innate reaction to dogs. We cannot expect these findings not to be applicable here.
In his letter of Nov. 11, Peter Robertson stated: “there is no evidence that dogs on a leash will have a significant effect on wildlife.” He mentioned the “noisy and ground breaking train,” implying that if wildlife can successfully tolerate them it can easily tolerate people with or without dogs. The reality is the effect of trains is patently minimal and beyond our control. However, we can and must make choices that will minimise the impact of humans and dogs. SABNES wants visitors to the sanctuary not to be unduly boisterous, to respect others and not to bring their dogs, creating a fulfilling experience for everyone.