A nesting colony of endangered western snowy plovers inhabits the sandy beach near the Santa Ana River mouth in Newport Beach. Plover populations have been decimated by humans taking over the shore. Rampant illegal human uses harass and damage the colony, mostly from people letting their dogs run free, including commercial dog operations. Signage is ignored, local law enforcement sits idly by in their vehicles taking no action, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dismissed the issue. Not only can nests be damaged, but harassing the birds depletes the food stores of these long-distance flyers.
EHL has joined other groups – Sea and Sage Audubon Society, Orange County Coastkeeper, and Sierra Club – long active in trying to protect the plovers. EHL testified twice before the California Coastal Commission, which other than requiring signage, has ineffectively deferred to local governments friendly to those breaking the law. This is the wrong beach for dogs, and alternative locations must be found.