Monday, May 10, 2010

When the rules get broken

I went for a hike with my family yesterday in Rocky Mountain National Park to celebrate Mother's Day. It was a perfect day for a hike - 60's, sunny, a few clouds and no wind. As we hiked, we began to notice tracks in the snow that looked like those of a coyote. I'm no Tom Brown so I wasn't sure but they were fun for our son to follow. We hiked to an abandoned mine in the Park, found a nice spot for a picnic and had the place to ourselves. We only saw a few other people on the trails all day. However, on our way back to the trailhead, we heard a group coming from behind us. I turned around an noticed they had a dog on a leash. That explained the tracks in the snow but begged the question as to whether or not the dog owner knew that dogs aren't allowed on Park trails.

The dog owner was moving pretty quickly past us and I knew I'd only have one shot at talking to him about the dog. My initial thought was to just tell him dogs weren't allowed. But as he got closer I changed tact and said, "Howdy. Do you hike here much?" expecting him to say that he was new to the Park, which would allow me the opportunity to tell him about the Park's rule on dogs and why they weren't allowed. Much to my surprise, he told me he "hiked in the Park a lot." To which I said, "I didn't know dogs were allowed on Park trails [playing dumb]." His response got me, "Dogs aren't allowed on the trails but they're [the National Park Service] pretty cool about it this time of year. It's just not a big deal." At this point, I really didn't know what to say. Especially since this guy knew the rules but blatantly chose to break them.

This is the guy whose selfish actions impact the rest of us. Don't be this guy...


Alex said...

I don't even understand why dogs aren't allowed in more parks. If you clean up after your dog, they are the best hiking buddy around! Some of the most hardcore hikers I know hike with their dogs.

Ben said...

Domestic pets aren't allowed in most National Parks because dogs and cats are considered to be unnatural predators in a natural environment. Pets may harass and even kill wildlife, carry disease and intrude on other park visitors' experiences. Pets are also prey for larger carnivores like mountain lions and coyote packs.

From Rocky Mountain National Park -

Hiking with dogs can be a great thing, and there are plenty of place where this can legally and responsibly occur. National Parks just generally aren't one of those places.

As a dog owner, I do not feel that dogs should be allowed on trails in National Parks. That said, here's a great place to locate areas where you CAN hike with your dog:

Alex said...

well, my personal thought on this are more along the lines of, if you have a dog thats going to be destructive to the environment/kill the wildlife, or hurt other hikers, then ya, common sense would say dont bring them into a park. i personally dont have a dog (yet) and would probably be too afraid of the fine to break these rules if i did. but if i saw a dog on the trail and if was "leaving a trace" i would report it, if not i probably wouldnt. Also people in Alaska hike with their dogs as a kind of protection from large predators, dogs can alert you to their presence and also be chosen as the target in an attack over their owners ( i know this goes against a lot of what some people are comfortable with, butter better your dog then you)

Anonymous said...

There are just some places that dogs shouldn't be allowed to go. Nuf said.

Michael G said...

Dogs may be part of our family and our Pack... But they do not have to go everywhere we go. Especially to places they are not allowed.

@Ben has it right.

(including grocery stores)

Chris said...

I wouldn't break the rules but don't fully agree with Ben's points. Aren't we unnatural predators? But there should be places where dogs aren't allowed - of course the owners are the problem not the dogs.

But since I like to hike with my dog, I prefer National Forests.

eric said...

if the rules say "no dogs," then don't bring dogs. that's a fair rule. as other readers have pointed out, there are plenty of places to hike with a dog.

what gets me is that dogs aren't allowed on trails due to the disturbance they create, but stock animals are.

i'm a dog lover, and if the rules are no dogs, then i won't bring dogs. but riding a thousand pound grass-eater through a national park with steel shoes doesn't seem like it's any better than walking a dog.

Anonymous said...

Unnatural predators? With all due respect, I think not. Rather we are the most natural and original predator.