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Enforcement increased on popular trailhead after several people are bitten by dogs

The following is a news release from Caribou-Targhee National Forest.
DRIGGS — This weekend several people were bitten by dogs at the popular Teton Canyon trailhead on different days. Using Teton Canyon as a dog park is not acceptable and ruins the experience for others.
“We are seeing an increase in irresponsible pet ownership at our winter trailheads,” said Jay Pence, Teton Basin District Ranger. “Due to increased user conflicts and the rising number of complaints we are going to increase enforcement efforts.”
The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is reminding Forest users that animals must be on a leash no longer than six feet in developed recreation sites. Developed recreation areas include areas within 200 yards of a trailhead or designated campground. Unless specifically closed or under special regulations, dogs are also required to be under the owner’s control elsewhere on National Forests Lands. This regulation is consistent for trailheads and campgrounds nationwide on the National Forest.
“Each year, PAWS, the CTNF Forest Service, and town and county officials receive complaints about irresponsible behavior of dogs and dog owners,” said PAWS Executive Director Amy Moore. “The majority of the complaints concern dog waste being left on the trails, out of control dogs, and dogs harassing wildlife. Due to limited access in the winter, we see more concentrated use at our most popular trailheads. This high volume leads to more frequent interactions between dogs, families and wildlife and a negative experience for many users on our trails.”
“I know people enjoy skiing with their dog and we want to try to continue to allow this activity, but pet owners need to be responsible and keep their animals on a leash at the trailhead and at least 200 yards down the trail.” The Forest is urging all users to be respectful of each other and follow proper trail user and pet owner etiquette. Moore stresses that people can help keep trails pet-friendly by abiding by leash restrictions, scooping the poop and making sure that dogs are on strict voice command when not on a leash.
Many users enjoy recreating on the groomed trails in the winter. “We are happy to support multiple use on our local trail systems,” said Dan Verbeten, Teton Valley Trails and Pathway (TVTAP) Director. “However, the trend of use has increased dramatically over the years and the increased use has resulted in more conflicts with humans and dogs.” TVTAP reports that the 2018-2019 season brought approximately 11,000 winter users to the Teton Canyon trail alone. Winter trail grooming is completed through a partnership with TVTAP. Last year, staff and volunteers with TVTAP spent 1,334 hours grooming winter trails.
A small population of irresponsible pet owners is having a big influence on developed recreation areas in the Teton Basin. “Based on the experience we are having at Teton Canyon, I’ve had to revisit how we are going to manage pets in other areas,” said Pence. As a result, the Forest Service will be implementing a seasonal closure on the South Valley Trail System to dogs from Dec. 1- April 15.
This is a relatively new trail system for winter access as grooming began in 2018.
“Since this groomed trail opportunity did not exist for dog owners in the past, implementing a seasonal closure now will help us get ahead of the issue before it becomes problematic,” said Pence. Some trail users have already expressed concerns about the high probability of a dog/person collision on the Yeti trail. In addition, the District has fielded complaints from parents regarding the popular sledding hill located at the trailhead near the Mike Harris Campground because owners have failed to clean up after their pets. “It’s hard not to be sympathetic to a parent whose child has fallen into, or slid through, a surprise left by someone’s dog in the snow,” said Pence.

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