SANTA FE, NM – June 12, 2020 – With many more visitors than usual taking advantage of recreation opportunities on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF), it’s a good time to remind everyone that dogs are always welcome, but owners are responsible for the safety of their pets and other visitors.
A recent incident on a trail near the Santa Fe ski basin where “two curious and bold terriers” off leash encountered two dogs on leash caused an unpleasant confrontation between the dog owners. Fortunately, neither humans nor animals were injured but tension was definitely high.
With campgrounds reopening next week, it’s a safe bet that the canine population on the SFNF will increase significantly. National Forest Service guidelines require pets to be on a leash no longer than six feet at all times in developed recreation areas (campgrounds and picnic sites), parking lots and on interpretive trails.
The rest of the forest falls under local county ordinances, and it is up to the dog owner to know what the rules are. For trails along NM Highway 475, the road to the Santa Fe ski basin, that means Santa Fe County which requires dogs to be “under leash or under control of the owner.” The ordinance further defines “control” as the dog responding to sound commands or coming to its owner on command.
Be sensitive to the fact that other visitors, especially children, may be uncomfortable around dogs. And your dog may not like other dogs it encounters on the trail. Make sure you have constant control of your dog. Carry a leash and use it when necessary and appropriate. If you are not confident that your dog will always come when called, keep him on a leash.
With recent cougar and bear activity reported on other New Mexico national forests, remember that an unleashed dog wandering off trail could encounter predators and be injured or killed. The bottom line is a leashed dog is always going to be a safer dog.
And yes, even though you are in the woods, you still have to clean up after your dog. Dog waste can spread disease to wild animals and contaminate water. Please don’t leave the poop bag along the trail. Picking it up and carrying it out to the nearest trash can or better yet home with you is just common courtesy to other forest visitors.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the SFNF continues to assess the best way to serve the public. Please recreate responsibly by following all federal guidelines and state public health orders, including social distancing and limits on groups size. Be safe and plan ahead to reduce unnecessary exposure and impacts on emergency personnel. Stay up to date by checking the SFNF website and following the forest on Facebook and Twitter.