The city is reminding people to clean up after their canines following Salmon Arm council’s receipt of a letter from a resident fuming over dogs roaming off-leash and feces left in local parks.
In the letter, Fern Fennell said she’s noticed more dogs off-leash and uncontrolled in city parks. Of particular concern are the park areas along Shuswap Lake, from the Peter Jannink Nature Park to the Foreshore Trail.
“It seems that many people believe it to be an ‘off-leash, let your dog run wild area’,” said Fennell of Peter Jannink. “I have walked many times over the winter in the park, which surprisingly harbours many birds of different species. Unfortunately, most times I see one or more people with dogs not under their control… Just noticing all the dog excretion away from the main trail is proof of that.”
At Marine Park, Fennell said she’s seen off-leash dogs chasing ducks and other birds feeding in the area and leaving excrement in many places as the “owners obviously don’t see where their dog goes or care to pick up.”
Of recent concern was a scene Fennell witnessed while on a Sunday walk on Christmas Island in the city’s bird sanctuary. She said she saw at least at least four dogs, and their owners, walking around the island. Two of the dogs were off-leash.
“The signage states that dogs must be on leash and that no dogs are allowed on Christmas Island,” said Fennell. “However, even more concerning was after one dog was allowed to walk unleashed around the island, the owners continued to let it roam on the Foreshore Trail in the tall grass going towards Raven. At that point, it ran out into the frozen lagoon and proceed to chase some green-winged teals and mallards for several minutes.”
Fennell said she notified SABNES of the incident and they will be addressing the need for more signs. She also suggested the city needs to do more around bylaw enforcement.
“As the city grows there is less and less habitat for wildlife… it seems that a ‘nature park’ should be protected so all things of nature can use the habitat undisturbed by roving dogs,” said Fennell. “The whole Foreshore-Raven Trail and Christmas Island are what many consider a prime habitat for birds, mammals and insects, but also one where humans can access by safe use of the designated trails. More must be done to help preserve and protect this and other nature parks of the city.”
Responding to Fennell’s letter, Coun. Kevin Flynn too commented on the number of dog feces he’s found in city parks.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a spring that’s been worse, where people assume snow makes dog feces disappear over the winter,” said Flynn. “It’s bad most springs, but this spring seems to be worse.”
Flynn said he is proud Salmon Arm offers many parks where dogs can roam off-leash. However, he suggested council needs to discuss whether the city should have more on-leash parks if people are unwilling to keep control of and clean up after their dogs.
Mayor Alan Harrison said the city relies on members of the public to remind dog owners who do not follow city bylaws for on leash and clean up to mention it to them, “because there are so many parks, we just can’t be everywhere.”
“I have to say, like most things, I think many many dog owners are responsible and do clean up after their dogs and have their dogs on leash, but we notice when dog owners… are not responsible and do not follow the bylaw,” said Harrison.
Harrison doubted additional signage would help.
“My reading of people who don’t have their dogs on leashes, it’s not because they didn’t see the sign,” said Harrison. “They’re pretty hard to miss in most of those on-leash areas.”
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