Wildlife comes out with fewer loose dogs | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wildlife comes out with fewer loose dogs

While people may have mixed feelings about the new enforcement of a dog prohibition at the beach near Taylor Creek, the votes from the area’s wildlife are unanimous.

They like it.

“There’s so much more wildlife out there since we’ve done this,” said Bill Johnson, law enforcement officer for the Forest Service. “Just the other day, I saw four bald eagles, an osprey and a lot of ducks. You never used to see that.”

Once referred to as Dog Beach, the Visitors Center Beach near Taylor Creek this year has been the subject of a somewhat controversial dog ban. The Visitors Center area has 350,000 to 400,000 visitors from Memorial Day to October. With that many people, the beach was often filled, and the Forest Service often received complaints about too many dogs.

However, there were other concerns, too, such as how the dogs affected the area’s wildlife.

“South Shore in general is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the Tahoe Basin. The Taylor Creek area, with a marsh and a wetland, has all kinds of species of wildlife,” said Kevin Laves, wildlife biologist for the Forest Service. “Despite all the people that go out there, it’s still one of the best areas to see wildlife.”

For years, no dogs have been allowed at the beach, but people still used to bring them there. Officials only started enforcing the rules this year.

Visitors say it makes a difference.

“We sure have seen a lot more eagles down there, practically every day,” Gretchen Sullivan, a Los Angeles resident who has visited the area for decades, said Monday.

Laves said scientific research shows dogs have a negative impact on wildlife habitat.

“People walking into an area have X effect on wildlife. People walking into an area with a dog on a leash have say 2X effect. When a person lets their dog run around, it has about 10 times the effect,” he said. “For whatever reason, wildlife perceives dogs running around as more of a threat.”

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