Why to keep your dog on a leash in national and provincial parks April 23 2016

Wildlife managers warn of off-leash behaviour

David Hamer holds up his dog Wag, a 14-year-old dachshund-terrier mix, in front of a dogs on leash sign near Cougar Creek in Canmore. Tuesday (April 19).

Dog owners are being warned to keep dogs on leash at all times in a bid to protect treasured wildlife.

It’s required by law for dogs to be on leash in national and provincial parks, but officials with both Parks Canada and Alberta Parks and Environment say it’s an ongoing battle to try to get compliance on the issue.

They say dogs can pose a threat to wildlife like bears and wolves, especially younger animals, and an encounter with wildlife can prove dangerous, potentially deadly, to dogs and their owners as well.

“At this time of year, we’ve got wolves that are at den sites and bears coming out of the den and it’s just so important to keep dogs on leash at all times,” said Mike Grande, a Parks Canada resource management officer with Banff National Park.

“Dogs aren’t part of the natural ecosystem and they can throw things out of balance. And when dogs are off leash, there’s potential they could kill animals, but they could also displace wildlife or impact a critical lifecycle of the animals.”

A study published earlier this year in the online journal Nature.com showed the causes of about half of the 700 carnivore encounters documented in North America and Europe were a result of inappropriate human behaviour, including dogs off leash.

Another study published in International Bear News in 2014 suggested dogs may actually trigger bear attacks. The study revealed 49 of 92 reported black bear attacks in Canada and the United States from 2010-15 involved dogs.

For the full article by Cathy Ellis click here.