The Department of Conservation is urging people to think about their actions in order to protect a nationally vulnerable shore bird.

It is the breeding season of tūturiwhatu, or banded dotterel, which are found in Hawke's Bay and are experts in camouflage.

This hides them from predators but also makes them easily disturbed.

Main threats include rats, mustelids and cats, as well as human activity, including vehicles and uncontrolled dogs.

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Chicks will start hatching from mid-September.

DOC ranger Bernie Kelly said keeping vehicles including quad bikes and four-wheeled drives below the high-water mark and away from nesting sites is one way people can make sure they do not driving over nests and squashing eggs or chicks.

"Dog owners need to be aware that wandering dogs in coastal areas are a very real threat to nesting shorebirds and other wildlife.

"Dogs can find and sometimes harass and kill nesting birds or chicks. Keeping dogs on lead is the best option.

"We're lucky we have a significant population of dotterel here in the Hawke's Bay.

"But given the national threat status of dotterel it's important we take every opportunity to protect nesting sites, and not only on coastlines but also braided river beds in the district."

Bay View and Westshore beaches both have populations of banded dotterel.

Bayview resident Paddy Cooper said many visitors to the beach are not aware of the birds.

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"Once they are aware most people take much more care."

A spokesperson for Napier City Council says cars are not allowed on the beaches, however acknowledged this was hard to police.

She encouraged people to call the police if they see someone driving on the beach.

Dog are allowed off-leash at Bayview under the Dog Control Bylaw.

The spokesperson said the city's bylaws are reviewed regularly.

"In this particular instance, any review of the dog control bylaw would involve consultation with the community and other organisations such as HBRC and DOC.

"Any areas in which wildlife may be affected would be taken into account during the review."

DOC is working with both Napier City Council and Hastings District Council, as well as locals, to increase awareness of the dotterels, as well as other nesting shorebirds during the breeding season.

Dotterel nest predominantly on the foreshore of beaches, just above the high-tide mark.