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Environment ministry cracks down on dogs to protect migratory birds in Greater Victoria

‘Wildlife violations were occurring regularly’ in bird sanctuary, says federal government
The Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, established in 1923, starts at the high water mark at 10 Mile Point in Saanich and stretches across the shoreline of Oak Bay, Victoria, Saanich, View Royal and Esquimalt. (Capital Regional District map)

Three of five municipalities affected earned letters from the federal ministry governing the large Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

While the sanctuary affects lands below the high tide mark in Saanich, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal and Esquimalt, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) received complaints about interactions with off-leash dogs and sent letters to three municipalities.

Victoria, Oak Bay and Saanich were deemed the three with leash-optional areas on or adjacent to the sanctuary, a spokesperson with the ministry told Black Press Media in a written statement.

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While unable to immediately pin down how many complaints it has received in recent months, Environment and Climate Change Canada said the public voiced concerns about a growing number of dogs harassing birds in the sanctuary.

“Wildlife violations were occurring regularly in some areas of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, and municipalities sought guidance from Environment and Climate Change Canada. We confirmed the violations through officer patrols, communications with partner agencies and the public, including from tips sent to ECCC’s public inquiries centre,” spokesperson Hannah Boonstra wrote. That includes a phone number and email on the federal website

A study into the area where the sanctuary was established nearly 100 years ago, is expected to be complete in the next year.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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