Even the goodest of good pups can accidentally harass or kill wildlife while off exploring, which is why we’re reminding visitors to keep their dogs on-leash and on conservation area trails at all times. Spring is a particularly sensitive time, as some birds and animals build their nests on or very close to the ground. These nests can easily be trampled, eaten or otherwise destroyed by curious canines.
While the RVCA welcomes on-leash dogs to most of its conservation areas, Conservation Lands manager Chelsey Ellis says her department’s top priority is protecting the natural spaces RVCA owns and manages. “Off-leash dogs disrupt the ecosystems we are trying to protect,” Ellis said. “We want to ensure we can balance all the unique natural activities happening at our sites. Guests can do their part to help by keeping dogs on-leash while they connect with nature.”
The meadowlark, bobolink and whip-poor-will are all considered species at risk in Ontario, and all of them build their nests on the ground, making them vulnerable to roaming pups. Game animals like grouse, ducks and turkeys also nest on the ground. Mammals like mice, voles, chipmunks and even skunks can also be found cuddled up with their young in burrows, under logs, in leaf litter or in cavities at the base of trees where they are at risk of being disturbed.
Allowing pups to poop in the woods where it’s not easily cleaned up is a problem, too, as dog waste can contaminate nearby waterways and introduce disease and parasites to local wildlife. Cleaning up after your dog – on or off the trail – is important to protecting our natural areas and waterways.
The RVCA operates 11 conservation areas across the watershed, including 42 kilometres of trails. Our properties include wetlands and forests, unique floodplain lands along the Rideau River and a wildlife reserve in Perth. Please note the wildlife reserve does not allow any dogs at any time.
To plan your visit, see www.rvca.ca/conservation-areas.