Dog owners should act responsibly and always ensure that their dogs are under the control; for the safety of the dog and wildlife, and to allow an enjoyable outdoor experience for other recreational users.
Wildlife approached by dogs may feel threatened and defend themselves, causing injury to the dog. Porcupines, racoons, coyotes, bears, moose and deer can all cause injury to dogs when cornered. Also there is a danger of rabies, distemper or other wildlife diseases being transmitted to the dog.
Dogs harassing wildlife can be seriously detrimental, especially in winter. Animals may be injured or killed if caught. This is more likely to happen to young animals, which may also be separated from their parent losing protection and nourishment. Also, animals may be injured while fleeing a pursuit, too.
Expending large amounts of energies can weaken animals, particularly deer, and may prevent them from having enough reserves to survive the long, harsh Adirondack winters. Dog owners should be aware that state law allows every environmental conservation officer, forest ranger and member of the state police to kill any dog pursuing or killing deer within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park.
Also be aware that not all people you may meet like dogs. Some, often due to negative experiences in the past, are intimidated or frightened by dogs, even friendly ones. Although many people like dogs, most do not appreciate a dog jumping up on them, especially one with muddy or wet feet.
State regulations require that, in the Eastern High Peaks, dogs be maintained on a leash on trails, at primitive tent sites, at lean-to sites, at elevations above 4,000 feet, or at other areas where the public congregates.
Dog owners that utilize state lands managed by DEC should be aware that many people participate in hunting and trapping on these lands. Hunters do not appreciate dogs chasing or frightening game they may be pursuing. New York State law prohibits purposely interfering with hunting.
Trapping regulations prohibit the setting of traps within 100 feet of a trail, except in Wildlife Management Areas. Regulations also restrict the size of body gripping traps set on land and require that these type traps be set in a way that prevents the capture of dogs and other non-target animals. However, dogs that wander more than 100 feet from a trail, run the risk of being caught in a leg hold trap. This won’t cause serious injury to the dog, however, it will restrain them at a location and make it difficult for owners to find them.
Although trapping regulation requires that traps be checked every 24 hours throughout most of state, in most of the Adirondacks trappers are only required to check traps every 48 hours. The trapping season for most species opens in late October and closes in early December or early April depending on the species – not a good time to be caught outside for an extended period of time.
Except for hunting dogs, owners should never let their dog out of sight and should always be capable of controlling them through voice command or physical restraint such as a leash.
Enjoy your time in the outdoors with your dog, but be sure to protect your dog, protect wildlife and respect other outdoor recreationist.
Photo courtesy Greg Dower.
A version of this guest essay was contributed to the Adirondack Almanack in 2011 by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy. Their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy, share, and protect these unique lands.