Hikers and bikers are fortunate to have access to some of the best trails in the nation right here in Park City’s own backyard. More than
400 miles of trails exist in Park City, Snyderville Basin and Summit County. Neighboring Wasatch County offers an additional 150 miles, most winding through Wasatch State Park.
We are lucky to have an abundance of trails through our scenic mountain areas, although with that luck comes responsibility. Many of our trails run through sensitive wildlife habitats for deer, elk, moose, fox, and coyote—even the occasional mountain lion or bear. Residents and visitors alike are thrilled to spot these wild creatures while out having fun, but there are other frequent participants on these outings that can wreak havoc on a peaceful encounter: dogs.
We love to take our pets everywhere—the store, a concert, the trail. Although you probably think of your dog as a friend and non-threatening companion, wildlife sees him quite differently. Moose in particular are disturbed by dogs since they closely resemble the moose’s primary predator, the wolf. If you’re with your dogs, you are considered part of that “wolf pack.”
Even if your pet isn’t the type that chases wildlife, dogs that are off-leash on the trail can significantly impact the wild in ways that you might not even think of. Park City’s little slice of heaven is occupied year-round by a wide range of animals that are feeding, finding mates and giving birth. During the winter months, moose, deer or elk can be impacted significantly enough to deplete their precious energy preserves when they need them most, often with serious—if not deadly—consequences. In the spring, animals with their young are easily disturbed by humans or their pets. Moose cows are
extremely protective, so a dog anywhere in the vicinity of their newborns will definitely get “Mama Moose’s” attention—and that’s not a good thing.
We have front-row seats to see some of nature’s most spectacular creatures who have graced this part of Utah far longer than pioneers or cowboys. We need to remember that wildlife deserve respect and consideration.
As long as we— and our canine companions—responsibly share the miles of scenic trails that make our area the special wildlife “sanctuary” it is, we can ensure a peaceful co-existence and future for all life— wild and otherwise.