By Ellen Brantley
I support leashed dogs on Montini and have a few more points to add to the discussion.
Point 1: One of the most objective studies I found on the impact of dogs on wildlife was done in Boulder, Colorado. One of the most interesting results to me was that, for some birds, a human with a dog had the same effect as a human walking alone. The researchers speculated that, for certain species, the birds were not threatened by dogs, since they weren’t hunted by coyotes or foxes. The researchers defined disruption by whether the birds (or other animals) would move away, and how far they would move.
As expected, the most significant disruption is off-trail activity. The link to the research paper, “Wildlife Responses to Pedestrians and Dogs,” is ftp://www.bio.sdsu.edu/pub/IEMM/Recreation/3rdTierLiterature/Milleretal2011dogs.pdf.
Point 2: My husband and I lived in the foothills of Sonoma Mountain for 19 years on 10 fenced acres. During that time, we had nesting swallows, finches, orioles, starlings, bluebirds and barn owls. I suspect we had many more nests, based on the huge amount of birdlife we observed, but those were the ones I saw directly. In addition, we observed foxes, coyotes, rabbits, skunks, opossums, and an occasional deer either on the property or directly outside the fence. We also owned up to three 60 lb. dogs at any one time and occasionally dog-sat for friends. We kept the dogs in at night, and they usually spent their days in a smaller fenced area unless we were on the property with them. Every year, the birds and mammals and countless amphibians and reptiles appeared. They co-existed and successfully raised young even with unleashed dogs running around.