“Even good dogs must be on a leash”
You’ve likely seen these signs at various trailheads around Marquette County. Keeping your furry companions leashed on trails is necessary for multiple reasons.
First and foremost it is for the safety of your pet and the wildlife around you. Allowing your pet to wander creates the possibility of them being harmed by animals such as bears, wolves, mountain lions, or other dogs. Even when leashed it’s important to keep your dog from approaching other pets, as bad interactions can happen when one leashed dog approaches another.
It also creates the possibility (whether it’s on purpose or accidental) for them to harm wildlife they may interact with. Even if your dog is not able to catch wildlife, chasing them causes these animals to use unnecessary energy or even abandon their young. Chasing wildlife may also lead to injury to your pet.
In reference to the 7th Leave No Trace principle, we want to make sure to respect our fellow hikers. While hiking on trails you may encounter folks who are scared of dogs or simply aren’t comfortable with them approaching. Keeping your dog(s) leashed and not allowing them to pull up to other visitors allows all hikers to feel safe and comfortable on the trails.
Pick it up and pack it out
A common misconception is that dog waste is a natural fertilizer and will biodegrade quickly and harmlessly. Dog waste is much different from that of wildlife because of their diets. Wildlife consumes things that are directly found in their ecosystem, while dogs do not.
According to an article by Leave No Trace, dog waste can carry many parasites and bacteria that are harmful to the soil and nearby water, and it adds excess nutrients to the environment. When pathogens from buried waste leak into the soil and water, they can even become naturalized into an ecosystem, reproducing and living on after the waste has decomposed.
Aside from the large environmental impacts of leaving your pet’s waste, it simply takes away from others' experience on the trails. Leaving your pet's waste behind for others to see, smell, or step in is discourteous to others seeking to enjoy the trails. If you’re not a fan of carrying your dog's waste on your walk, watch this Leave No Trace video to show you some great alternatives.