"Keep Dogs Away From Wildlife!" Says Alberta Expert

by Jennifer Smith August 16, 2018

An Alberta Parks ecologist is furious after seeing a video of an off-leash dog chasing after a bear near Canmore.

John Paczkowski told CBC Calgary News at 6 the problem of dog owners losing control of their animals and disturbing wildlife in clearly marked areas, is getting out of control.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. You can watch the complete interview here.

Q: How problematic is this?

A: It's a really epidemic problem, dogs off-leash in wildlife corridors.

We've recorded tens of thousands of records from research cameras of people walking and recreating with dogs off-leash.

Q: Why is it such a big problem?

A: Dogs and wildlife don't interact very well.

They interrupt​ wildlife when it's really important for them to be gaining calories, especially this time of year. The bears are head down just trying to put on calories so they can make it through the winter, so being chased and harassed by a dog, they lose calories and energy and it's a really critical period for them.

Those interactions, although they might seem benign to dog owners, can be critical for wildlife.

Q: Are you stepping up efforts to enforce the rules?

A: We have hired two extra enforcement officers to patrol the protected areas around Canmore, but we've seen an increase of 240 per cent in off-leash dog tickets written and there are tens of thousands of people letting their dogs run off-leash in these sensitive wildlife areas annually.

So you are fighting against a really big problem.

Hopefully over time we will be able to change people's behavior and opinions and part of that is this increased enforcement effort.

Q: It is frustrating for your team?

A: It is really disheartening.

We put up a warning here three weeks ago, that there are a lot of bears in the area, that it's an important time for them and some people just disregard the warning.

They are not only putting themselves at risk, they are putting their dogs at risk and they are putting the wildlife at risk.

Story re-posted from CBC News. 

Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith