As the weather warms and preserves become more frequented, the Little Traverse Conservancy would like to remind the public that dogs should be kept on leashes when people visit preserves.
Part of the conservancy's reasoning is safety.
Fuller says the safety of people using the preserve and respect to the preserve's neighbors that the conservancy has the rule. But human safety isn't the only reason for a dog to be leashed. The conservancy's first aim is to protect the area's natural resources, said Fuller.
"Something that always comes up in our discussion is that dogs are basically instinctual animals," said Doug. "Whatever it is — deer or wild turkey or more rarer wildlife — if dogs are loose, many of them are going to chase (the wildlife)."
In fact, unless the dog is a service animal, belongs to a licensed hunter who is actively hunting, according to Michigan State University's Animal Legal & History Center.
That includes animals on state land, such as Wilderness State Park, said Burr Mitchell, the park's manager. And at Wilderness and other places along Lake Michigan where the endangered piping plover nests, dogs aren't allowed on the beach even with a leash between late April through the end of August.
"We're going to use some common sense there," said Mitchell. "We know the birds aren't here yet, and we still have snow on the beach, But once we get to where the snow is gone, we have to be kind of particular. It's not just us — (the piping plover) is a federally threatened species of birds."
Both Fuller and Mitchell say the issue is one the organizations deal with annually.
"We'll get it both ways," said Fuller. "We'll have people calling our offices this summer, saying that at such-and-such a preserve there was a dog without a leash, and an equal number of calls saying, 'This really sucks, I want to have my dog off your leash on your preserves.' I can certainly see the point of it."
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