Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Off-Leash Dogs Attack Grebe in GGNRA - San Francisco's Dog Blog

April 15, 2007 was a great day to be outside in San Francisco--unless you were an injured Western Grebe trying to recover in the GGNRA's so-called "wildlife protection area."

Bending to the pressure of irresponsible dog owners, the GGNRA has refused to enforce leash laws at the Park for many years. Although a putative leash law enforcement area was institute to protect snowy plovers within the GGNRA's Wildlife Protection Area and portions of Ocean Beach, the Park has abdicated its responsibility to enforce this closure almost totally.

A prime example occurred on April 15. A group of Golden Gate Audubon volunteers saw two off-leash dogs approach an injured Western Grebe in the Wildlife Protection Area. This act was a violation both of the Park's leash law and the Park's rules against wildlife harassment. When the Grebe hissed at the dogs in an act of self-defense, the dogs began charging and attacking the helpless bird:

The Golden Gate Audubon volunteers ran to place their bodies between the dogs and the bird, but the irresponsible dog owner showed no concern for the bird and refused to leash her dogs. As you can see above, she sauntered along as if nothing occurred.

Adding insult to injury, Park Police were called but refused to cite the individual for any of the various violations of national park regulations. The reason? They didn't witness it with their own eyes, and the eyewitness reports of several individuals--including one responsible dog owner who was appalled by the attacking off-leash dogs--were not considered sufficient evidence to take action.

If the GGNRA expects anyone to feel safe at the Park--including the GGNRA's wildlife--something needs to change. Instead the park seems content to not cite anyone, even in the Wildlife Protection Area, until its putative regulations--or the Park's wildlife--expire.