JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service is cracking down on people letting dogs run off leash along trails in Wyoming and Idaho, following a surge in reports of dogs harassing wildlife and biting people.
Officials say it is unacceptable to treat Teton Canyon — which boasts stunning views of Grand Teton National Park — like it’s a “dog park.”
The forest service will more strictly enforce rules that say dogs must be leashed within 200 feet of trailheads and campgrounds, Teton Basin District Ranger Jay Pence said.
Dogs will be banned outright on one recently-built trail system, known as the South Valley area, from Dec. 1 to April 15.
The move comes after nearby communities in Idaho such as the town of Driggs have grown dramatically in recent years, their economies fueled by the wealth of nearby Jackson, Wyoming. That’s put new pressures on nearby forests that once saw few visitors.
The problems gets worse in the winter, when fewer areas are open and people and dogs have more interactions, said Amy Moore with PAWS of Jackson Hole, an animal advocacy group.
The route that’s had the most problems, Teton Canyon trail, will remain open to dogs.
Rather than shut down that popular, dog-friendly area, officials opted to focus on holding owners accountable, Pence told t he Jackson Hole News & Guide.
He talked to more than 100 people about the topic on a recent weekend, including a woman unable to get control of her unleashed dog for 20 minutes.