Folly officials knock down pet ban on beach

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) - Folly Beach city officials on Tuesday night knocked down a proposal to keep dogs and other pets off a section of the beach.

The ban would have only applied to the west side of Folly Beach County Park.

"There'll be some discussion about the different options that we could do. We could possibly amend it, we could possibly withdraw it and re-submit something. We could pass it," said Folly Beach city councilman Eddie Ellis earlier in the day.

Ellis says the idea came about as a way to protect birds from dogs and other animals.

"If we set aside a small section of the beach where we already know there is a large congregation, then we can preserve one of our natural resources and then let the dogs have the rest of the beach," said Ellis.

The move is one with some support from biologists with the wildlife service.

"Dogs even on-leash can disrupt shore birds. So, can people," said Melissa Bimbi, an endangered species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "This particular guild of birds, they are all in decline. Several of them are on the federal endangered species list and many more of them are on the state list."

There are designated bird-nesting areas above the tide lines where dogs are not allowed, but Bimbi says those areas alone will not suffice as protection.

"Once the chicks hatch, they don't stay in the nest. The nest is for all intents and purposes just a scrape in the sand. So, after a few hours, after they have hatched, they are up and their parents are leading them down to areas to feed," said Bimbi.

Bimbi says a year-round, 24-hour ban is the most responsible way to help birds and dogs co-exist on the beach.

Bimbi presented her recommendation before city council Tuesday night.