Dog leashes not optional in Uplands in spring

Posters remind residents that dogs should be on a leash right now in Uplands Park

Killdeer nest at Uplands Park.

Killdeer nest at Uplands Park.

Posters are up to remind residents that dogs should be on a leash right now in Uplands Park.

“All we’re asking is that dogs be kept on leashes from April 1 to June 30. It’s just a reminder to people,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, manager of Parks Services for Oak Bay. “There are a lot of birds that nest on the ground and just a little ways up in trees, etc. and we want them to feel safe. It’s a sensitive ecosystem and we want the birds to be able to nest peacefully.”

For example, nesting killdeer lay eggs in the rocks on the ground and are easily scared away by dogs. If the eggs are moved, the birds do not seem to return to them either. Friends of Uplands Park says two families were successful raising young last year there.

Uplands is host to many ground-nesting birds, including spotted towhee, chipping sparrow, orange-crowned warbler, dark-eyed junco and song sparrow. There are also many low-nesters, such as Anna’s hummingbird, bushtit, chestnut-backed chickadee and Bewick’s wren.

“We always like to remind people to keep their dogs under control at all times,” Hyde-Lay said. “(The signage) is just a reminder, because for nine months of the year it’s an off-leash area,” he said. “That’s a benefit because the dogs do keep the deer populations down in the park.”