Leash laws being relaxed in some of Steamboat’s parks, trails
July 14, 2017
The Steamboat Springs City Council is relaxing the city’s leash laws in four parts of the city, despite some concerns from two elected officials that the move will lead to more conflicts between dogs, wildlife and other trail users.
Tuesday’s 5-2 vote by the council means dog owners will, as soon as Aug. 10, be able to let their dogs off leash on the Lower Spring Creek Trail, Blackmere Drive, the Butcherknife trail and some parts of Whistler Park.
The dogs will have to be under voice and sight control, and owners won’t be able to have more than two dogs off leash at a time.
The new off-leash areas will be in place as a yearlong trial period.
Previously, there were only two places in the city where dogs were legally allowed off leash.
Dog owners have spent months asking the council for the off leash areas in response to beefed up leash law enforcement in the city.
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At one point, some dog owners were yelling at city officials at public meetings and saying they found the leash law enforcement to be too much and, in some cases, even harassing.
They formed a group called Steamboat Digs Dogs to advocate proposals making the city more canine friendly.
Councilwoman Heather Sloop and Council President Walter Magill opposed the move to relax the leash laws.
“Somebody’s got to be against dogs … for the runners and the bikers,” Magill said.
Sloop cited concerns about the mix of off leash dogs and wildlife, especially at Whistler Park and the Butcherknife trail.
She noted Colorado Parks and Wildlife recommended that off-leash dog parks should have fencing to protect against negative encounters.
“We should either say we can do off-leash if Steamboat Digs Dogs can do fencing, or we hold back until we get appropriations for that,” Sloop said.
In recent years, there have been several instances of moose attacking humans because of off-leash dogs running after them.
And in one case, a dog attacked a calf elk that later had to be euthanized.
The new off-leash areas will be put in place as soon as the city finalizes pending agreements with nearby property owners, including the Steamboat Springs School District and Mount Werner Water.
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