Do you like exploring Vicksburg with your canine friend? If so, stop by the Visitor Center to pick up a copy of an activity checklist and learn more about Vicksburg's B.A.R.K. ranger program.
The B.A.R.K. ranger program teaches dog owners about the importance of following the "Rules of B.A.R.K." while visiting Vicksburg NMP. Dogs completing this short program can be sworn in as Bark Rangers and will receive a special tag to commemorate their achievement.
Keep an eye out for special B.A.R.K ranger programs throughout the year. Much like the Junior Ranger Program, the B.A.R.K ranger program is a self-guided experience and may be completed any time by picking up free information at the visitor center.
We hope to see you out in the park walking with your pets, enjoying this special place, and getting healthy in the process!
Rules of B.A.R.K.
B = Bag Your Poop
Help keep Vicksburg clean by collecting and disposing of all dog waste. Be sure to carry a poop bag with you. Do not throw them into the woods or hang from trees. Public garbage cans are located throughout the park.
Dog feces is not a natural fertilizer. Dogs can carry diseases such as parvovirus, giardia and roundworms into the park's wildlife populations. Water sources may also be polluted by dog feces.
A = Always Wear a Leash
Pets must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6 feet (2 m); retractable leashes extended beyond this limit are prohibited.
Leashes protect dogs from becoming lost and from wilderness hazards such as porcupines.
Not everyone is a dog person no matter how friendly and well behaved your dog may be. Dog friendly areas are a privilege and might be lost if leash regulations are not followed.
Many people, especially children, are frightened by dogs, even small ones. Uncontrolled dogs can present a danger to other visitors. Leashes also protect the experience of other visitors who may be afraid, allergic, or who do not want a dog approaching them.
Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.
R = Respect Wildlife
Dogs can chase and threaten wildlife, scaring birds and other animals away from nesting, feeding, and resting sites.
Be especially careful around the nests of birds.
The scent left behind by a dog can signal the presence of a predator, disrupting or altering the behavior of park wildlife. Small animals may hide in their burrow the entire day after smelling a dog and may not venture out to feed.
Please keep your dog at a respectful distance from any animals you may encounter.
K = Know Where To Go
Pets should not be left unattended. Summer sunshine poses a threat to pets in vehicles. Don't leave pets alone in a car while walking. Choose another hike or come back another day.
There are 16 miles of tour road to walk over and a dozen miles of trails. The best time to walk the tour road is before 8am and after 5pm when the road is closed to vehicles.
The following areas are closed or restricted to pets with the exception of service animals:
All public buildings
The USS Cairo
On or inside any mouments and memorials
Other Important Points:
Ticks are prevalent in Vicksburg NMP, especially in late spring through early fall. Check yourself and your dog thoroughly after a visit to the park to prevent any ticks from latching on to you or your dog.
To limit your exposure to ticks:
Walk in the middle of trails away from tall vegetation.
Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot.
Wear pants tucked into socks.
Spray your shoes and clothing with repellent. Tick repellents, vests and bandanas are also available for your dog.
Remember, you are taking your pet into a different environment and you are responsible for them. Do you have enough water for yourself and your pet? Does your pet have the endurance (and paw pads) to hike the trail you have chosen? Have you considered your pet in all of your preparations? It's the job of all staff to keep visitors and the park safe. If your pet becomes disabled on the trail, what will you do?
With a little preparation, you and your pet can have an enjoyable trip in VIcksburg National Military Park.