Why are you talking about my pets?
Fair question. Wildlife can easily become used to seeing, smelling and hearing pets on or off-leash and become bolder and bolder, approaching humans and pets on trails in in our own backyards. Food conditioning happens when wildlife get a reward from a food source (like our garbage bins, smokers, outdoor freezers, dog bones) and usually results in the animal returning for another reward and sometimes aggressively defending the reward they have found. A food conditioned wild animal is a dangerous one. Every year pets are killed or injured by wolves, foxes, coyotes, bears and other wildlife. Wildlife are unnecessarily destroyed every year when they approach human settlements looking for food.
keeping pets & wildlife safe
The good news is, it is not hard to keep both pets and wildlife safe and everyone benefits when we do. Please read this article, written by Sarah Elmelegie, a biologist in Canmore Alberta. She points out some of the current scientific findings about the stress related impacts of off-leash pets on wildlife and our responsibilities as pet owners. Note that off-leash dogs are the second highest risk enhancing human-behaviour recorded at the time of bear attacks in North America!
Sarah's article: Why dogs belong on a leash outdoors.
WildWise Yukon, with support from Yukon Government and the Community Development Fund, has designed a series of posters intended to encourage and remind people to keep both wildlife and pets safe by securing their furry loved ones. Practicing responsible pet ownership includes ensuring that our pets are safe and secure from predators. Secure enclosures, walking dogs on a leash and bringing our pets inside are all simple steps toward this goal. Practicing responsible environmental stewardship involves keeping wildlife wild and alive.
We hope our posters act as a reminder and an invitation to help us take simple steps to make Whitehorse safe for people, pets and wildlife.