The vulnerable beach-nesting Hooded Plovers are struggling for survival this breeding season with hundreds of footprints were spotted from holiday beachgoers near the nesting and dune areas in Point Roadknight in Anglesea.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Environment and Education Manager Katie Dolling said this type of behaviour is unacceptable and causing concern at the popular hoodie nesting area.
“Dunes are highly sensitive ecosystems that provide protection to the coastline and habitat for several native species, including the Hooded Plover. Dunes are easily damaged by people accessing these areas.
“Trampling vegetation in the dunes compromises dune stability and their ability to withstand other environmental factors including wind, waves and rainfall,” she said.
Hooded Plovers have one of the lowest survival rates from nest to adult of any species in the world and have a 90-95% nest failure rate.
“It is disappointing to see people are illegally accessing the dunes and nesting area at Point Roadknight despite clear signage and fences,” Ms Dolling said.
Great Ocean Road Coast’s Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said it is essential residents and holidaymakers are aware of the local wildlife in the area.
“Hooded Plover numbers are dwindling and it is important we as a community help protect this species.
“Hoodie parents are easily scared away from their nests by people and dog’s getting too close which is why it is so important we stay out of these areas.
“Walking along the water’s edge is an easy way to help ensure we don’t accidently trample the highly camouflaged ‘hoodie’ eggs and help protect the local birds,” Ms Beale said.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee runs a #SaveTheHoodie campaign each breeding season to help raise awareness of the vulnerable birds. The ‘Hoodies for Hoodies’ competition sponsored by Ghanda Clothing Torquay is on again. For more information visit www.savethehoodie.com.au.