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Hunting down wildlife: Not all dog owners observe leash regulations in parks

Hunting down wildlife : Not all dog owners observe leash regulations in parks

Time and again, free-running dogs prey on wildlife in public parks. The city of Bonn emphasizes that a leash requirement applies almost everywhere in public green spaces.

A severely injured swan was found in the Rheinaue. The life-threatening wound on its chest was presumably from a dog bite, as determined by a veterinarian. In the past, there have been several cases in which free-roaming dogs have hunted down wildlife. Already in 2019, two ducks were snatched by a dog at the Rheinaue lake.

This can also have devastating consequences for breeding in the spring. For example, if a dog tracks down a duck nest, the parents flee and the eggs cool down and deteriorate.

Bonnorange is responsible for removal of dead animals

Depending on the breed, the hunting instinct in dogs is stronger or weaker. Once the instinct is awakened, dogs are usually impervious to the calls and whistles of their owners. Animals that cannot flee quickly enough fall helplessly, prey to their hunters. The injured animals are usually taken care of by animal rescue services but when the animals die from their wounds, the carcasses are "picked up" by Bonnorange, says Markus Schmitz from the press office.

Although the city is only aware of isolated cases of mauled animals, it estimates the number of attacks by dogs on wild animals to be significantly higher. "If the leash requirement is not observed, dog owners may not even notice when the dog goes off the trail chasing other animals," Schmitz explains.

At the Rheinaue lake, where ducks and swans live, it is especially important to keep the animals on a leash at all times, the city explains in a press release. According to public regulations, dog owners must keep their pets on a leash in green areas and the subway areas, among other places.

 But not all dog owners know that leashes are mandatory in public parks. Annina Haller from Königswinter, who likes to go for walks in the Rheinaue with her eight-year-old dog, is surprised by the information. "But I almost always have Camero on a leash on public paths anyway. He is not aggressive, but barks a lot," says the 23-year-old. Her four-legged friend is used to the leash, she says, unlike some dogs that occasionally cross her path while she's out walking. "What annoys me are people who let their dogs run free permanently - even if they see that there are ducks and other birds in the Rheinaue or children playing in the meadows who are often afraid of dogs," she says.

 If the leash requirement is not observed, dog owners face fines of at least 60 euros, says Markus Schmitz. Depending on the incident, the severity of the injuries and the number of injured animals, the fine can be even higher. Even without an incident, dog owners face a fine during a check by the city's public order service if they do not keep their animals on a leash in public green spaces.

So that owners can let their dogs run free from time to time, there are several dog runs in the city, designated with signs. Here, the dogs can run around freely and there are waste bins for the deposits of the four-legged friends.

Some of the dog-run areas in Bonn can be found on the Heiderhof, in the Derletal, at the Waldenburger Ring and at the Finkenberg. In the Rheinaue, not far from the Caesar Research Center, there is also a designated area for dogs to run free.

(Orig. text: Abir Kassis, Translation: ck)