Uncontrolled dog activity and problem areas in urban parks


  • Kaitlyn Squires Miistakis Institute - Mount Royal University


Domestic dogs are a significant, but poorly recognised, threat to native wildlife inhabiting natural environments within urban areas. The main driver of dog abundance and habitat use is human presence. The objective of this study is to determine the level of uncontrolled dog activity (off-leash, without human accompaniment) in on-leash designated areas within the City of Calgary, to identify off-leash problem areas, and to provide recommendations to parks management on how to reduce the impacts of domestic dogs on wildlife in city parks. There was a lot of documented off-leash dog activity in all natural areas with camera traps, and the majority occurred in on-leash areas. A large portion of uncontrolled dogs occurred within 250 m of off-leash designated areas (the majority occurring within 50 m), suggesting that a lack of public awareness of where off-leash areas end and on-leash areas begin may be contributing to the high off-leash rates. The results also suggest that dog owners behave similarly with respect to dog leashing regardless of leash rules. An increased vigilance by the city and increased public awareness of the effects that domestic dogs have on wildlife, through means such as signage in problem areas, could help to decrease the number of off-leash dogs in on-leash designated areas and the effects that dogs have on wildlife in Calgary.