Coastal dog lovers are feeling jilted and frustrated by last week’s unanimous council decision triggering a major year-long trial of changes to where dogs can access beaches. Despite a strong campaign, including an 1194-signature petition gathered by retired teacher and Gnarabup regular Gary Gibbon, the council voted in the changes amid concerns regular dog beach attendees weren’t following guidelines and were causing beach erosion and harm to the beach-nesting Hooded plover. Mr Gibbon this week told the Times he and other beach users were “extremely disappointed” but were yet to identify other ways to stop the review going ahead. “It’s almost inconceivable to me that councillors could so blithely ignore the feelings of 1194 other petitioners, gathered in only 48 hours, almost 300 of whom took the trouble to comment to councillors as to why they supported the petition,” he said. “I believe the council has lost touch with balancing the needs of its constituents. “All coastal users should’ve been consulted in the survey, all dog owners contacted, and calling the plover ‘endangered’ was not true, with its official status as ‘rare but not threatened’. “It was misleading and represented obvious bias in the survey.” Mr Gibbon wasn’t alone in questioning the Shire’s rigour, with ex-Shire president Pam Townshend — opposed to Gnarabup’s back beach as an exercise area — last week also speaking out about Shire data on the at-risk plovers. “I’m actually wondering if you are competent in how good your information is about Hooded plovers on that back beach,” she said. “The records are not robust.” Petitioners questioned the same information, with regular Gas Bay users supplying photo evidence that crows, foxes and humans without dogs were bigger threats. All councillors last week said dog owners had to take greater responsibility in the shared onus on residents to protect the region’s biodiversity and spare other residents unbagged dog poo in recreation areas, including the Cowaramup Oval. Margaret River Coastal Residents Association dune rehabilitation worker Janet Dufall supported the review. “Off-lead dogs running through dunes, causing irreparable erosion … negates the conservation efforts of the volunteers’ hard work and can often never be repaired,” she said. Cr Ian Earl noted the change to local laws would also give rangers more power to enforce rules for dogs caught off-lead in restricted areas. The new review included areas for Parkwater, Brookfield and Rapids Landing, and retains about 300m of coastal reserves and would be revisited in October next year.