Visiting Parks with Your Pets
In general, pets are permitted but must
be restrained either on a leash not exceeding 6 feet in length, caged
or crated at all times. Park Superintendents and Managers have the discretion
to further restrict areas open to pets (i.e., trails, buildings, campgrounds
may be off limits).
Restrictions on pets in parks are as much
to protect your pet as to protect park resources. Following are some
of the reasons parks give for regulating the presence of pets:
--When a loose pet chases a squirrel or raccoon, the wild animal's ability
to survive is threatened, and when it is threatened, it may react aggressively.
--There is a strong possibility in parks such as Yellowstone that your
pet could become prey for bear, coyote, owl, or other predators.
--There is a possibility of exchange of diseases between domestic animals
and wildlife. --Dogs, the most common traveling companion, are natural
predators that may harass or even kill native wildlife that is protected
within the park's boundaries.
--The "scent of a predator" that dogs leave behind can disrupt or alter
the behavior of native animals. --Pets may be hard to control, even
on a leash, within confines of often narrow park trails and may trample
or dig up fragile vegetation.
--Dog and cat feces add excessive nutrients and bacterial pollution
to water, which decreases water quality and can also cause human health
--Finally, lost domestic animals sometimes turn to preying on park wildlife
and must be destroyed.
Some park webpages have lists of nearby
kennels where you can leave your pet during your stay in the park. You
can access information on the parks you plan to visit by going to the
"Visit Your National Parks" website at http://www.nps.gov/parks.html.
It is always best to check with the park(s) you are planning to visit
for specific information and restrictions for pets.