Wildlife Survival Depends on Good Manners

 In the deep heat of summer, the Hansville Greenway’s Great Hall trail is a shady outdoor paradise for my goldendoodle, Watson. The abundance of sword ferns intrigue him with, I’m certain, the scent of other dogs that choose to leave their wet imprints for him to find. Every now and then, a frog stirs the bushes on the edge of the trail and Watson tenses, as is his instinct. His leash enables me to stop him before he pounces.

The Greenway requires dogs to be leashed for a good reason. It’s a nature preserve brimming with wildlife trying to stay alive, mate, breed. The Greenway is their home and Watson and I are just visitors trying to mind our manners.

If we stick to the trails, as is required, we have less chance of crushing tadpoles, disturbing amphibians and their eggs or ruining the fragile homes of ground-nesting birds. It’s tempting to let Watson splash in Upper Hawk’s Pond off the Quiet Place platform, but the destruction he’d cause to the peaceful site is a strong deterrent. The ducks would never forgive us and the beavers might never leave their den again.

Some nature areas ban dogs for the stress they cause wildlife with their very presence. While Watson is cute to me, he’s a predator to small mammals, amphibians and birds. They hide in terror from him, much like small children (small mammals) scramble behind parents when unleashed dogs run at them. Remember when you were three and eye level with dogs? Scary.

I want the Greenway to continue to welcome Watson throughout his lifetime, so he visits only on a leash and we take his bagged poop with us when we leave. For more information, visit https://hansvillegreenway.org/dogs-in-the-greenway/.

Cynthia Taggart