U.S. Forest Service increases leash-law enforcement in NC

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service remind the public that a dog leash law is in effect in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, including roads and trails. Forest Service personnel have stepped up enforcement recently. Due to the area’s high popularity and intensive recreational use, unleashed dogs have become a safety issue, officials said in a news release.

“Unleashed dogs greatly increase the potential for accidents, whether in confrontations with other aggressive dogs, jumping on hikers or chasing runners and bicycles,” said Pisgah District Ranger Dave Casey. Dogs also may be tempted to chase wild animals causing them stress or harm. “A leash is the best way to ensure the safety of all visitors, dogs and wildlife,” he added.

The national forest is governed by federal, state and county regulations which require dogs to be kept on a leash not longer than 6 feet. If a county’s ordinance says dogs cannot be off-leash off of private property, that ordinance includes the national forest property within the county’s boundaries. Henderson, Transylvania and Buncombe counties have such ordinances. Polk County does not have an ordinance.

Forest Service personnel and county animal control officers have increased patrols, actively engaging dog owners to talk about the rule.

“Education is our preferred tool, and while most dog owners readily complied with the rule when they understood it, about a third of the dog owners have persistently continued to ignore it,” said Casey. “We are asking for your cooperation for the safety and enjoyment of all forest visitors.”

Public Affairs Officer Cathy Dowd advised visitors to use common sense and common courtesy when interacting with others in the forest. Some forest users may be uncomfortable with dogs or have had traumatic experiences with them in the past.

Individuals wanting further information may contact the Pisgah Ranger District at 828-877-3265.


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