Several dogs are facing bans from provincial parks and their families are being handed hefty fines as Alberta courts hand down punishments for repeat offenders of off-leash rules.
RMOToday.com reported this week that, “Alberta Parks officials say that in Canmore provincial court earlier this month, a third-time offender with three dogs off-leash chasing marmots was fined $750 and had her dogs banned from Kananaskis Country for 12 months.” And, “in a second court case, provincial officials said a mountain biker on the HighRockiesTrail in K-Country was fined $575, with the judge issuing a judicial order banning his dog from the park for six months. It was his second off-leash dog offence.”
Off-leash dogs can harass and kill local wildlife as well as create conflict with wildlife and people. An Alberta conservation officer quoted in the RMOToday.com article notes that in October a bear followed an off-leash dog back to their human companion, resulting in injury. This is not uncommon: The Fur-Bearers routinely hear of dogs leading bears back to people as well as harassing and following coyotes, skunks, porcupines and other wildlife who get blamed for the conflict. In many of these cases the wild animals, whose homes are being invaded by what they perceive to be a predator or threat, pay the price with their lives.
The Fur-Bearers are glad Alberta’s courts have shown they will take these cases seriously and enforcement twinned with education can be a powerful tool. However, dogs also need the ability to express themselves and exercise their instincts and needs, which can often involve running about. We hope dog companions will locate safe and appropriate off-leash zones for play and adventure and complete due diligence on who their wild neighbours are.
Finding a balance between enjoyment of natural spaces and safety for those who call it home isn’t always simple, but it starts with considering the impact of our actions on all those around us.