Pam Kennedy and Piper with Ellie Finlay, an ESWA volunteer wilderness ranger, head up Pitkin Lake Path.
Canine lovers know the delight of sharing nature with our canine companions. Canines’ sheer pleasure within the outdoor enhances our personal, and their nice sense of listening to and odor can draw our consideration to elements of the pure world that may in any other case go unnoticed.
How to make sure our canines can benefit from the wilderness with out struggling or inflicting hurt?
Luckily, the answer is so simple as leashing your canine. Domestically, public lands are managed with totally different leash laws. Persistently utilizing a leash protects each the security of your canine and the well being and security of the surroundings and its inhabitants. We take pleasure in easy accessibility to the Eagles Nest Wilderness, the place regulation requires leashing: “Pets are required to be on a leash to guard wildlife, different customer’s expertise, and your privilege to have them with you.”
How does leashing shield your canine, our alpine surroundings, and also you? Leashing helps shield canines from getting misplaced (together with spooked by sudden climate adjustments like thunder), caught in pure hazards like fast-flowing streams, or attacked by wildlife together with moose, mountain lions, bears, porcupines and different animals that understand unleashed canines as threats.
Leashing additionally helps shield you from assaults by wildlife your canine would possibly disturb. Many moose assaults contain unleashed canines. Colorado Parks and Wildlife cautions “moose see canines as predators and can assault aggressively” and “at all times preserve your canine on a brief leash and beneath management.” In summer season, moose defending their younger are particularly harmful.
Leashing helps you monitor your pet for dehydration, sore paws, exhaustion, overheating and different dangers. Take into account if the hike you are trying is acceptable to your canine’s well being and health earlier than bringing a pet alongside. For his or her security, canines, like people, could must construct up their mountaineering power earlier than making an attempt longer or extra strenuous adventures.
How can we shield wilderness and alpine areas from canine impacts? Once more, leashing is essential, together with staying on the path. This minimizes your pup’s unfavourable impacts, together with stressing wildlife, dispersing noxious weeds like seeds hitchhiking on paws and coats, trampling delicate native vegetation, contaminating streams and lakes, and disturbing different customers.
Canine house owners usually tend to clear up after leashed pets. Contaminants in canine waste, like E. coli and cryptosporidium, can sicken wildlife. Canine waste causes inexperienced algae blooms that eat oxygen in alpine lakes and streams, killing fish and aquatic vegetation. Canine waste is excessive in nitrogen and phosphorus, permitting invasive vegetation to outcompete delicate natives. So, bag waste, place the bag in a reusable bag designed to keep away from smelly backpacks, and carry it out.
Within the fragile alpine tundra above treeline, the place distinctive animals and vegetation wrestle to outlive in harsh circumstances, leashing your pet is essential. Pikas, for instance, should preserve vitality whereas storing meals to outlive lengthy winters. Nevertheless, pikas, whose squeaks sound like a canine toy, could be injured or killed by unleashed canines, as noticed within the Holy Cross Wilderness after the leash rule was dropped in 2013.
Within the alpine zone, Depart No Hint.org recommends leashing and staying on path: “With a number of frolics in a delicate alpine ecosystem, canines can shortly trigger a variety of unintentional destruction. Assist your canine journey and camp on sturdy surfaces within the alpine by retaining them on their leash.”
Leashing your canine lets you be a greater steward of the land when visiting wilderness and alpine environments. There are penalties for violating Forest Service laws.
Searching for assist with leash coaching? Free coaching sources can be found regionally, on-line, at your library, and thru animal shelters.
So, keep in mind: “Love ’em? Leash ’em.” You’ll shield your canine, your self and our wilderness and alpine areas. Kudos to canine house owners who comply with laws and respect wildlife, wilderness and fellow customers.
Frances Hartogh is a volunteer wilderness ranger for Eagle Summit Wilderness Alliance.