Help keep Bunchberry dog-freeCome ski, snowshoe, hike, or bird watch but please leave your dog at home
Bunchberry Meadows entrance (Photo by NCC)
Summers are a great time to get outdoors and explore local trails, and many of us want our canine companions to accompany us on our adventures. While many places welcome dogs, visitors to local conservation area Bunchberry Meadows are being asked to please respect site rules and leave their canine friends at home.
The Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area is privately owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Edmonton & Area Land Trust. The conservation area protects habitat and provides the public with a place to hike, cross-country ski, snowshoe and connect with nature.
The site was officially opened to the public in 2017 and is accessible for year-round foot access. The conservation of Bunchberry Meadows was made possible thanks to five local families who owned the land and cared for it for more than 40 years. Over the decades, they kept this site intact while the surrounding land and the city of Edmonton underwent significant development. The property is now surrounded by acreages, and the city inches closer each year.
Bunchberry Meadows is a safe haven for many fragile ecosystems and the species that depend on them. To conserve this natural habitat, while allowing public access, dogs are not permitted on the property.
“We love dogs. Most NCC employees have dogs of their own,” said NCC communications manager Carys Richards. “We know that people want to take their dogs out when they go hiking and exploring, and we also like taking our dogs into nature with us. But it’s important to keep dogs off properties like Bunchberry Meadows, as it scares away the wildlife that people are hoping to see when they come out.”
The decision to make the Bunchberry conservation area a dog-free zone was not taken lightly, but it was decided that the benefits of creating a dog-free natural area outweighed the negatives. Dogs can help to spread invasive plants into protected areas, and along with frightening the wildlife, they can also chase birds and trampling vegetation. Even something as simple as marking their scent on the trails is enough to deter some wildlife from using the site.
Nina McLaughlin, co-founder of Alberta Pet Education Society, wants owners to be concerned for their dogs’ health and safety. “While finding new places to walk your dog is exciting, safety and everyone’s well-being is the most important consideration. The “no dogs” signs are a warning that this is not a safe place to explore with your pet.”
Carys and Kahlua at Lake Louise (Photo by Jesse Knowlden)
Beyond the impact on the ecosystem, bringing a dog onto a conservation site can also pose serious risks to a pet’s health, such as injuries and bite wounds. Coyotes, which are often seen on the property, are known to attack and occasionally kill domestic dogs, while a kick from a startled moose can easily break bones.
Dogs explore the world with this noses and mouths, leaving them at risk of ingesting poisonous plants or contracting diseases. Even some common plants found in the area can be toxic to our domestic pets. Parasites, such as fleas, ticks and lice, can spread easily from grasses and plants to other pets, and even people.
There are plenty of off-leash areas in Edmonton and nearby communities that provide a controlled environment for dogs to exercise, socialize and bond with their owners.
“Bunchberry is a special place, and we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to share it with the community,” said Carys. “It’s amazing that there is somewhere this wild so close to the city, and it’s important to us to conserve this small piece of the natural world. We want people to come out and explore Bunchberry and take the opportunity to connect with nature, but please respect our rules and leave your dogs at home.
To find access information and learn more about Bunchberry Meadows, visit BunchberryMeadows.ca.