EAGLE, Idaho — In early May the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation announced that the only state park that still allows dogs to roam free would require leashes at the end of the month because of a rise in incidents.
After hearing concerns and ideas from the public the Idaho Parks & Recdecided to try out a pilot program at Eagle Island State Park to see if they can make this work, but it all hinges on responsible dog ownership.
"People asked us for a compromise and we are willing to go there, but it is based on the dog owners doing their part," said Craig Quintana of the Idaho Parks & Rec Department. "We are hopeful that people will be respectful of others and play nice because that’s the way the pilot can stay in effect."
Dog owners will be able to have their dogs off-leash in the 212 acres south of the main access road which is pretty significant as the total acreage of the park is 545 acres, plus dog owners will also be able to have their dogs off-leash on the dirt trails that weave through Eagle Island State Park.
This is contingent on dogs not having altercations with other dogs, humans and wildlife.
Other requirements are people need to have a leash, a waste bag, clean up after fito and for the trails keep their dog within 30 feet of them and have a pooch that comes when they are called.
"We changed our proposal quite a bit and that is the impetus for the pilot," said Quintana. "People said give us a chance to prove that we can reign the bad behavior in and be responsible as a community and challenge accepted."
But just last week Quintana told us about an incident where a dog off-leash attacked a goose in front of grade school children who were at the park for an educational class and the dog owner became combative when confronted by chaperones of the children.
"We want to work with folks and see if we can make this work as a middle ground but we can’t have incidents like the one we had last week with the dog getting the goose in front of a bunch of little kids," said Quintana. "That’s just not going to fly."
Vocal dog owners and equestrian riders who let their dogs run when they take their horses out have helped give people a second chance when it comes to dogs being off-leash with their ideas and concerns, now it's up to everybody to do their part for the future of this issue at Eagle Island.
"They were some of the folks that had some of the good ideas and brought them forward," said Quintana. "We are hoping to implement them successfully in this pilot."
Dogs have never been allowed on leash in the core area of the park which includes the pavilion, the water slide, the pond and the disc golf course and that remains the same.